COLLEGE PARK, MD –
I wanted to share her thoughts with you all as I believe people with a God-centric worldview must be very clear about this concept in order to live a rooted, stable spiritual life.
The nature of certain relationships, like those between spouses, is difficult. It is not anyone’s fault; even at its best, marriage is just hard and requires spouses to figure out how to make it work.
Toxic relationships are different. God does not ask us to remain in toxic situations.
Many people have been hurt with a religious discourse that tells them they have no recourse in regards to the toxicity of others – to simply be patient.
Patience is what we exhibit in difficult relationships, not toxic ones. In toxic relationships, we protect ourselves. It’s an important distinction.
With that preface, the specific type of toxic relationship I’d like to share Ms. Hartwig’s views on is that of one with a narcissist.
Repost of Melissa Urban’s notes regarding narcissists
*[Some notes of mine will be in brackets like these]
Today at @sxsw, I had the pleasure of listening to psychologist @doctorramani lecture on dealing with narcissists. It was the most interesting and relevant hour of my week.
• Most of us probably have experience with narcissists, whether it’s in a relationship, a friend or family member, or in the workplace. While narcissism is on a spectrum, she explains in her book, ‘Narcissists tend to be pretty on the outside, but empty on the inside. While they are often successful, they are also controlling, manipulative, entitled, vain, and lacking empathy.’ If this sounds familiar, here are the takeaways from today’s talk:
• She said this three times in a row: THEY. DON’T. CHANGE. So pay attention to the red flags; look to behaviors (not words); and look for patterns, not isolated incidents.
• Dump them (ideal), or distance yourself (stop handing over your soul). If you must communicate, stop doing it face to face. Create boundaries, like a list of topics you will not discuss or parts of your life you will not share with them.
• Enter “the zone” before you have to deal with them. Breathe. Get focused. Put on your suit of armor. Don’t go in defenseless.
• Cultivate other healthy relationships. Stop throwing a disproportionate amount of time and energy into the abusive one. It will never be enough, and it was never about YOU being enough in the first place.
• Show yourself compassion. Practice self-love [not the narcissism we are trying to avoid. Self-love is not loving our lower selves]. Self-love is the greatest middle finger of all time [perhaps a better term here is ‘the greatest way to stand up for ourselves’], and after time spent with a narcissist, you need to show yourself compassion and grace more than ever.
• Be careful with forgiveness. Forgiveness, for a narcissist, equals permission. You can let it go, but be cautious in extending forgiveness [forgiving in our hearts is important and virtuous, but it doesn’t mean we must continually give someone that we know abuses us permission to continue doing so; perhaps a balanced approach here is to forgive but stay vigilant].
I hope the above points help us untangle some of the knots around how to deal with narcissists. First and foremost, we should all keep in mind that God is not an oppressor, and He is not a supporter of oppressors (such as narcissists).
Anyone who tells us to be patient in the midst of toxicity is not speaking in the name of God, but, rather, in the name of their lower selves.