I see many people, myself included, who try to create effective management strategies for dealing with narcissists. Some of these strategies intuitively make sense- such as limiting your time with a narcissist, carrying around pat, ridiculous phrases that you know the narcissist loves to hear, rearranging entire social events so the narcissist feels “extra special”, wearing noise blocking headphones whenever around the narcissist and so on, all have their place.
One thing you need to understand, though, is that narcissism isn’t some slight, little issue that you can “work around”. Narcissism isn’t an insignificant personality glitch, like having the uncle who drinks a bit too much at social gatherings or the cousin who can’t seem to help telling off-color jokes.
You can’t work around narcissism, because narcissism encompasses EVERYTHING.
Narcissism is the proverbial elephant in the room. No one wants to mention it, but it does seem to be taking up a great deal of space and crowding everything else out.
“Working around” narcissism is like navigating an elephant in your living room. With a great sense of hope and “can do” spirit- you give it a try. You try to maneuver the elephant to the side of the room, only to realize with an elephant there is no “side” of the room- elephant tissue seems to expand everywhere and fill every space.
The same occurs with narcissism. It is not limited to a little “side” of someone’s life. It is their life.
And like the elephant, narcissism has a significant mass and weight to it. It dominates the room.
When you try to manage a narcissist, it is like saying “Okay, so the elephant is in the living room, taking up all the space, so I know…let’s remove all the furniture from the room…then the elephant will fit.”
And you will try this with the narcissist- you will remove everything from your life, hoping you now have enough space to accommodate the narcissist.
And you will find that no matter how much furniture you remove from your life, there is never enough space for the elephant in the room- the narcissist in your life.