“Narcissists love to get your reaction. And as soon as they do, you are handing power away,” says narcissistic abuse expert Melanie Tonia Evans in her article 5 Steps To Ignoring A Narcissist Who Tries To Punish You.
The solution, she says, is totally ignoring them — giving them no energy and no response.
Here’s why: the narcissist has insecurities so intense that he or she creates an image “to be a buffer between the narcissist and his or her inner wounds,” says Evans. “This entity, known as Ego (False Self), is running the narcissist’s emotions and life and feeds from pain.” So when you injure his or her False Self by standing in your power and triggering his or her insecurities, you become the object of the narcissist’s wounds.
The False Self feeds off pain, while the True Self (even if it’s still imprisoned by internal trauma) feeds off love, authenticity, and truth. “Because the narcissist is self-divorced from his or her True Self, the narcissist cannot feel, register, or hold good feelings. He or she can only operate within the range of painful feelings. All ‘good’ feelings for a narcissist are delusional/obsessive and ego-driven,” says Evans. “It’s your ego that wants to fight on, but our True Self knows that the energy being expended and the brutalisation we suffer is not worth it, and is NOT who you really are.”
Showing their False Selves and focusing on feeding their egos at the expense of your power is what poor leaders do. Showing their True Selves and allowing you to shine in your truth — your love, authenticity, and truth — are what good leaders do.
Sometimes we’re dealing with people in power who have full-fledged Narcissistic Personality Disorder. More often, when we’re upset with selfish behavior, we’re dealing with people in power who fall along a spectrum of narcissism.
I dealt with this behavior recently. This person in power surrounded himself with a good ol’ boys’ club — full of abusive behavior — whose work he boosted while minimizing my work and barely acknowledging my contributions and concerns. His leadership was absent, and his focus was on his image, even though he claimed to support healthy relationships.
Simply put: he wasn’t walking the talk. He put ego over connection.
The behavior didn’t align with my beliefs. It was unfair. Yet I was a perfect target for narcissistic supply because I’d stood up to the behavior in the past. I handed my power over and allowed his issues to bother my inner peace. I’d reinforced the hierarchy he created. I’d fed his need for power.
And in the meantime, I was allowing him to take mine.
This time, I refused to make his trauma my problem. I refused to hand him the bullets to shoot me with, as Evans puts it.
Instead, I set out to make his ego issue insignificant and meaningless in my life. What was also happening is what Evans describes as True Self yelling at me this: “Pull away and heal and create yourself as a Being that is impervious to abuse. Don’t try to fight back because you will only feed it, absorb it, and become it.“
What I learned
Let me be clear: grabbing power is always the root problem. Workplace abuse always falls on the shoulders of the abusers. We all deserve healthy work environments.
How we address the effects of their abuse can determine our path. According to Evans, when we hand power over to someone trying to grab it, we still have our own trauma to address. Complete healing means staying away from power-grabbers and becoming drawn to healthy relationships. Ignoring narcissists becomes easy because “we have made the journey all about loving and healing ourselves instead of trying to make the narcissist morph into someone who will love and care for us decently,” says Evans.
So how do we let the power-grabbers affect us in the first place?
Unhealed wounds can take any toxic form of how we were taught to view ourselves as children: “feeling not good enough, feeling loved with conditions, feeling not heard, not able to have my own rights, and not being capable to generate my own life,” says Evans. When others trigger those wounds, we (the unhealed children who dictate our emotions) hold them responsible to fix them. But of course they never will.
“It’s a beautiful day when the narcissist tries to trigger you and there is simply NO trauma there for him or her to trigger,” says Evans. “That’s when your response is indifference and you have nil reaction. No charge felt in your body means there is no trauma remaining. We are freeing ourselves from internal trauma which has caused us to hand power away in many areas of our life.“
Let’s go even deeper
We think that letting go of what the narcissist thinks means we’ll let down our defenses from them. We’ll be unsafe, threatened, scared, and taken down. We fear authority and the terror of being persecuted. We equate others thinking we’re bad or our behavior is wrong with being hurt.
What’s actually happening is that we’re tapping into the fear and powerlessness we felt as children. But when we target those feelings and release them, we realize our power. We know we’re loved and feel safe. “We know that whatever it is that is inauthentic outside of us is not our reality and cannot affect us,” says Evans.
The goal is to believe we are not always the person others believe we are — and to not live in fear that others will turn against us.
The only thing that matters is what we think of us — not what anyone else thinks of us. Once we focus on ourselves, we can follow a path of love and truth.