By Toni Lontis
Firstly, an excerpt from Huffington post “Narcissists are considered classic bullies. They ambush, attack without cause, and prey on the most vulnerable within their grasp, usually those who love and depend on them, namely their spouse and children who as a result, carry lasting emotional and psychological trauma.
Narcissists often also abuse employees, susceptible friends, and “underlings” such as waiters and clerks. Exploiting their power over others in any way possible feeds their endless need to feel superior, and their lack of empathy gives them free range to abuse without the troubling hindrance of a conscience.”
There are so many children, teens and adults who have been bullied or are being bullied now. It seems to me that the issue of bullying across the world is not given enough attention in terms of how to recognise the narcissistic bully and how to prevent, cope with and stop episodes of bullying, or even how to live with a bully.
Having experienced bullying during childhood and throughout my adult life at various times. I think I’ve developed some key strategies in dealing with those who bully and those who try to bully me.
What you need to understand first.
Bullies will have, in most cases, varying levels of narcissistic tendencies. By understanding the traits of a narcissistic bully, you will be able recognise them and deal with them effectively, thus preventing long term damage to you and your psyche. Narcissistic tendencies encompass any or all of the following traits:
- A need to build themselves up by humiliating other people;
- They like to assert their superiority;
- They use contempt to make others feel like losers;
- They threaten, mock and belittle others;
- They have strong feelings of entitlement;
- They think only about themselves;
- They lack empathy and emotional intelligence;
- They are extremely self-righteous and judgmental of other people;
Narcissists have no self-worth. Despite their overinflated egos, subconsciously, they feel entirely unworthy.
- They cannot forgive or forget;
- They are unhappy people because deep down they hate themselves and generally fell worthless;
- They are driven by unconscious compulsions and consumed by anger, hatred and fear;
- They are compulsive liars.
To manage narcissistic bullies, it’s a good idea to be on the lookout for early warning signs to prevent being affected as much as possible. Narcissists can be fantastic actors, so you will need to see beyond their facade. They are never wrong and always putting the blame on someone else. They may have an exaggerated charm at first and they spend time in the beginning, building relationships with people they deem useful or easy to take advantage of.
Other people may have trouble calling them out or even be afraid to do so, because the narcissistic bully has probably used guilt and/or fear to control them in the first instant. They may criticize and be cruel to others, seem paranoid, and skilfully arrange an incident that places them at the centre of attention.
These behaviours, when applied to others around them, can cause the victim to doubt themselves and become vulnerable. Vulnerability is the key here, as it can happen to even to the most self-assured and confident of us. Narcissistic bullies have a “low self-esteem” radar which seeks out and homes in on other individuals with low self-esteem. How do they do this? It’s easy for them. They themselves are fundamentally flawed in the confidence stakes. It’s something they battle with in their minds constantly. You, the victim or the potential victim, may not be aware of this because, outwardly they are brimming with confidence and bravado. The narcissistic bully battles with this themselves, inwardly and constantly, and you are mostly likely never going to know anything about it!
So how do you cope with these types of behaviours once you recognise them in others?
You have to understand that the narcissists behaviours have NOTHING to do with you and everything to do with them! So, by identifying the behaviour you are halfway towards managing it. The next element is implementing strategies that work for you and the situation you are in.
- Acceptance – Recognise and accept the situation for what it is. Someone is treating you in a way that is unhelpful and traumatising, you have not done anything wrong, you do not deserve this treatment. You will be able to rise above the situation by understanding some of the strategies that work and helping yourself. You have the power in the situation – the power to change it and your mindset. You do not and will never have the power to change someone else. You can only change you and your reaction to a situation. Happiness is a choice and you make a choice to be happy despite the current situation and sometimes because or in spite of it.
A helpful exercise in dealing with emotions. Particularly, the types of emotions that narcissistic bullies engender in us.
- Emotions are energy in motion. Emotions are supposed to arise and flow through us and leave again. When we hold on to them, the emotional energy coils up into a spherical shape. These blocked emotions can cause panic attacks and emotional trauma. However, you can actively delete them.
“So, when fear, anxiety or anger take over, focus on the emotion. Feel it. Describe it. Is it warm or cold? Is it prickly or fluffy? What colour is it? Where is it in your body? Locate it. Is it in your heart, your stomach, your head?
Once you know where it is, visualise it as a bubble or balloon and pop it with your finger or an imaginary needle.”
- This will release the circular energy that causes the blockage and bring relief. Do this as often as you need to. Whenever fear, hopelessness, anger or emotional pain arise. This exercise kindly borrowed from the following site – https://increasingselfworth.com/bullied-narcissist/
- Understand your own self-worth – you need to develop, reinforce, build your own self-worth and self-esteem. These are powerful tools to have in your resilience tool box. This will involve doing things that enrich you and empower you, it may mean spending time with people who love you unconditionally, it may mean participating in a sport you are good at or enjoy, volunteering for a charity, spending time with positive friends. What ever it is, do it and do it often. You are lovable, worthy and deserve a happy life. Use daily positive affirmations to improve your self-worth, they work. Make new friendships outside the bully’s orbit. Do not buy into the narcissist version of who you are.
- Remove yourself from situations where bullying is likely to occur. It will not always be practical to do this, but it is an acceptable first line of defence strategy. This option can be terrifying, and it may result in a complete severing of whatever relationship you have with the bully. It may be extremely difficult to free yourself from the situation. If you are able to server the relationship for good, you may expect the narcissistic bully to retaliate with wrath. This can be brutal and unforgiving. Your freedom from the constant bullying may well be worth it though.
- You can ignore the bully. Do not reciprocate, do not respond, do not bother with anything they have to say or do. By responding you will fuel a narcissists attack. Do not argue with a narcissistic bully. It won’t get you anywhere.
Document, document, document!
- If you are dealing with a narcissistic bully at work of school or in life in general, keep a journal. Never underestimate the power of the written word in maintaining balance and insight in your life. By keeping detailed notes of what happened, when and where you were, what you observed and perhaps specific things that were said, you will have a timeline of facts that you can use to provide you with insight into the bully’s behaviour and insight into your own reactions. This is a powerful tool in getting to know yourself and others, reflecting on your own behaviour and reactions in particular. Which brings me to the next point.
- Know yourself and your personality. Bully’s will always surround themselves with “yes” people. These people are enablers and enable the bully to get away with their bullying tactics. Uncover who you are, what your personality is and what you are capable of handling in terms of stress. Perhaps you trust too easily, perhaps you are over eager to help people. Narcissistic bullies see these traits as a gateway to being receptive to their “special treatment”, their mind games and their manipulation. Do you have trouble saying “no”, this trait is exactly what a bully looks for? By understanding you, you are ahead of the bully in the first instance. You are able to consciously understand how you may react in certain situations and plan accordingly.
It’s hard to figure out if you should just stroke the ego of someone with narcissistic tendencies in order to avoid unleashing a ripple of unpleasant events, or actually confront them. Either way, you should always try instead to limit your time spent with them, to be one step ahead by jotting down your observations, knowing yourself and how vulnerable you might be, and never taking what they do personally. Chances are they won’t last long within your organisation/orbit once their true colours are revealed. Take the necessary steps to be more conscious of the personalities it and around you.
Steps to take
- Set Boundaries. This is one of the skills that has had the most long-lasting effect on my life. Once I gained insight into this skill and how to use it set me free from needless angst and pain. This is something you have control of. Setting boundaries mean knowing where to draw the line, having an exit plan, setting your own agenda, don’t justify, overshare or explain. Understand that setting boundaries are a continuous process unless you can eradicate the bully from your life entirely. Importantly, don’t set boundaries unless you are willing to keep them.
- Say focussed on your goals. This means your focus is about you and your life. What advantages are there for staying in the current situation and persevering with the bully’s behaviour? Are there valid and worthwhile reasons for staying at a certain job, school or in a certain relationship? If there are then you need to implement strategies that persevere your goals and drive you towards them.
YOuneed to be take care of your mental health.
Your worth it!
Finally, part of developing resilience to trauma is developing and maintaining strategies that work for you, your individual personality and your life. Dealing with a narcissistic bully is time consuming and fraught with pain and suffering, however these personality types can be managed to some extent based on what you consider tolerable in your life. Its up to you and worth it. You are worth it.