Setting Boundaries with Narcissists

Full disclosure: I am not a licensed therapist, however, I’m a compassionate person who loves to take care of people. If there’s a way in which I think I can help you, I will do that and then some. However, because of my deep empathetic nature, I tend to attract people who are profoundly narcissistic in my life.

What does it mean to be narcissistic?

In Greek mythology, Narcissus was a beautiful man who fell in love with his own reflection. He was so enamored with himself that he died while staring at his own reflection. The myth of Narcissus teaches us what it means to be narcissistic or fixated with oneself. A narcissist is someone who is so profoundly preoccupied with himself that he lacks empathy and compassion for other people.

Narcissists tend to seek out empathetic people

As an empathic person, I find that narcissistic people are drawn to me because I fill their need to have an audience. I want to help them and fix them, and that’s what I try to do. However, it’s an unhealthy dynamic for the narcissist and for me. It’s a parasitic relationship where I end up feeling used and abused. This is a common problem with narcissists and other human beings. I’ve had to develop strategies to deal with the narcissists I encounter in my life.

Setting appropriate and firm boundaries

One thing that a narcissistic person is excellent at is pushing other people’s boundaries. Narcissists are extremely charismatic and fool you into believing that they genuinely care about your feelings. The truth is that they do not have the capacity to fully care about other people’s feelings, because internally they do not care about themselves. It can be challenging for me to set boundaries with the narcissistic people in my life, for one main reason: I have a chronic anxiety disorder. I manage my anxiety and ADHD with antidepressants, however, I still experience symptoms of guilt, and I overthink everything. What I’ve learned though, is that I have a right to say “no, I cannot help you at the moment,” when I need to. It’s not my responsibility to help people at all times. I have to care for myself first, regardless of how dire the needs of the other person seem to appear. A narcissist will convince you that their needs are more important than yours. You don’t have to listen to that, and you can push back by saying “I’m sorry, but I’m unavailable to help.”

You are not a horrible person no matter what a narcissist says to you

Narcissists have a way with words, as they are extremely charismatic. They fool you into believing things that are not remotely true about yourself. They are fueled by their intense self-hatred, which they project onto others. When a narcissistic person tells you that you are “dramatic” or “sensitive” that has absolutely nothing to do with you. That reflects on them and their own self-hatred. They have to go home at night and live with the fact that they despise themselves. Don’t internalize their words or take them personally whatsoever, this isn’t about you, it’s about them.

Don’t take it personally and keep it moving

Hear me when I say this: you are a beautiful person and do not let anyone take that away from you, narcissist or not. Remember your boundaries and be who you are. No one can take that away from you.

This post was previously published on Huffpost.com and is republished here with permission from the author.

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