How do you respond when a narcissist or other angry person assaults you with judgement, blame, criticisms and accusations? Most partners of narcissists unknowingly react in ways that invite even more narcissistic abuse. What if there was a better way to respond – one with the potential to stop the attack in its tracks?
Most people react to narcattacks in one of two ways: by defending themselves or fighting back. Neither strategy is effective.
A self-appointed Jury Of One narcissist will always find you guilty, no matter what evidence you present to the contrary. The more you defend yourself, the more you’ll be accused of!
If you fight back, you give the narcissistic a hit of “supply” – the energy that they unconsciously seek when they attack.
Watching you come undone reinforces their false sense of power, and invites more of the behavior your are defending against and fighting.
So what’s the best way to respond?
When you find yourself about to defend yourself or fight back (or as soon as you catch yourself), respond in a new way.
Some of the ones that have worked best for me and my clients have been statements that honored the way the narcissist was feeling but disagreed with their judgement/criticism/accusation etc. Do so with as little emotion as possible. The drier your delivery, the better this will work. Save the emotion for people who can support you with it.
Here are some examples:
“You are free to see me (and/or my actions) however you want.”“I don’t see myself that way, but it’s okay that you do.”
“I wish this didn’t feel painful for you but I stand by my choice.”
“I know you think I”m ____, but I know who I am.”
After diffusing the narcattack, take some time to process your feelings. Share them with a friend, coach or support group. Journal. Breathe. Be there for you. Just don’t expect your narcissist to be there for you – they can’t.
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