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Drawing Boundaries With a Narcissist

Update Date: Jun 28, 2017 08:52 PM EDT

Do you know someone who loves himself or herself so much that it drives them to a sense of entitlement? If yes, you have a narcissist in your life.

Narcissists can be tricky to set boundaries with as they constantly seek attention and intrude on your personal space. Psychotherapist Dan Neuharth suggests practical ways to deal with setting boundaries with such a person. Here's a sampling:

1. Draw a line

What are you willing to put up with? What will you absolutely not deal with? Make these clear so your narcissist knows where the line is.

Neuharth says you can be very explicit about this. For example, if someone calls you incessantly at an inappropriate hour at night for no other reason other than to talk about themselves, say, "Please do not call me after 9 pm unless it is an emergency." There is no explanation needed, and according to Neuharth, "the more quickly and decisively you act, the better."

2. Exit strategy

You can leave an interaction at any time that is unhealthy or devalues who you are. Again, no permission needed.

Neuharth suggests you set your phone alarm to buzz after a certain number of minutes for an easy escape.

3. Don't JOE: Justify, explain, overshare

Remember: shifting the conversation quickly and seamlessly is key.

"You do not deserve interrogation," says Neuharth. "The less you share of a personal nature with a narcissist, the less information they have to use against you."

4. Turn it around to yourself

Focus on you. Because narcissists need attention (or even crave it), "when interacting with a narcissistic person mentally check in with yourself and note what you are feeling, thinking and wanting," says Neuharth. "If doing that immediately is hard for you, try reflecting on the conversation later and think about how you were feeling during that time. This can dampen their effect and personal intrusion."

5. Look at the big picture

Narcissists are actually suffering deep down inside. Remember this.

Neuharth says, "Knowing their struggle allows you to see them in a more realistic light rather than as a larger-than-life, bullying, know-it-all who has the power to reduce you to feeling like a five year old.

6. If you're doing a good job setting boundaries, you will have consequences

This means you must ask yourself what you will do with once the consequences come, such as violating the boundaries or ignoring them.

Neuharth says, "For example, if a narcissist insults you, the consequence may be that you will label it or leave. Consequences should be clear in your mind ahead of time so you don't have to figure them out in the heat of the moment."

Again, only state this one time with no explanation. Also, once the statement is made, act on your proposition immediately.

In general, tool plus time equals less effectiveness, so act accordingly.

See the full list at PsychCentral.

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