Why Is It Always About You?

by Jul 16, 2012

I just finished reading the book, Why Is It Always About You? by Sandy Hotchkiss, LCSW, and it is a great book. Highly recommended.

Below are some excerpts. Go forth and feel empowered to change your situation.

Our number one tool for dealing with the Narcissist is to examine our own experiences and recognize how our reactions contribute to our discomfort. The goal is to understand what is happening and interrupt the process to protect ourselves (pg. 62).

Narcissists constantly dump – or project – unwanted parts of themselves onto other people. They then begin to behave as if others posses these unwanted pieces of themselves, and they may even succeed in getting others to feel as if they actually have those traits or feelings. What it means is that you end up being treated like the dirt they’ve brushed off their own psyches, or feeling the anger, the vulnerability, and the worthlessness that they cannot tolerate in themselves. They lob onto you, you suck it in, and for an icky while, it’s yours (pg. 64).

You cannot control what others do, but you can learn to contain your own reactions once you understand what is going on. Understanding where your feelings originally came from and accepting them as your own is the first step in protecting yourself against the toxic effects of narcissism. When you become comfortable with your own feelings, you will be able to deflect the shame that is triggered by the Narcissist.

Guidelines for Survival

1. Be aware of your feelings when in the company of someone who repeatedly evokes shame, discomfort, anger… These feelings can be excellent indicators you are in the presence of a Narcissist. Once you have recognized whom you are dealing with, you will be in a better position to defend yourself.

2. When you have uncomfortable or intense feelings in the presence of a Narcissist, ask yourself what buttons of yours are being pushed. Remember times past when you have felt this way and, from this more emotionally distant perspective, consider why you respond as you do. Don’t be afraid to look at your own narcissistic vulnerabilities, because this is exactly what will make you stronger.

3. Once you’re pretty sure you’ve identified the piece of the action that is yours, think about how your feelings help the Narcissist manage shame in some way. Try not to personalize what is happening. Although it couldn’t feel more personal, it really is not. You are just a means to an end.

4. You need to find a way to detach from the feeling of diminishment the Narcissist evokes in you. Sometimes if helps to think of this person as being two years old on the inside.

5. When deflecting the shame projected by the Narcissist, resist the urge to retaliate. Don’t try to challenge or enlighten this person either. The Narcissist has a lot at stake in keeping unconscious processes unconscious. If you try to tamper with this, you may escalate the situation to your own detriment or discomfort.

6. It needs to be enough for you to know that you have put the projections back where they belong in your own mind, regardless of how the Narcissist sees the situation. If you have trouble letting that be enough, you may need more personalized assistance to work on this in greater depth. A competent therapist can help.

About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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