Once a narcissist begins invalidating you, it is very tempting to become drawn into a competition you are sure to lose. Here is a winning strategy so you will be able to walk away from those episodes victorious. Hint: Your version of winning will not be the same as the narcissist’s.
There was a time when one word would cover this entire issue. The word intimidation was at the forefront of many and varied training talks. Winning by Intimidation was the title of a book that was referred to by many who used it a textbook. In fact, I thought my partner of the day was the author of this book since he used every opportunity to put this strategy into place. Now we are dealing with a whole gamut of words to describe the Narcissist interaction in a relationship. Words like gas-lighting, ghosting, criticising, mocking, and more, all to win the invalidation game. These words are the face and place for the covert narcissist to act on without shame or remorse.
In short these are some helpful responses to being in the grip of a narcissistic relationship. Confidence being the key.
Seems easy enough. Well, to overcome the invalidation game this is a good place to start. That confidence that I am referring to is what is found when you are grounded in the knowledge of how you really are.
I am going to start by putting this into the first person to allow you to directly identify with what applies to you personally. This confidence is also key in that you allow change in yourself and apply it when needed.
Respond not React: to any narcissist opinion of you
Pause take a breath:
- “I would like to understand what you are wanting me to know” This is taking myself out of the adversarial position. I am showing myself to be a decent person.
- State my perspective calmly, not using a presumptive or pleading tone of voice and let it be know that I have a perspective and this is what it is…
- When I receive the push back (and I will) they go back into the invalidation mode. Next I say: “I understand that is your perspective. I make not attempt to change that person’s mind nor make an attempt to make them see the light, because doing so I will have pulled myself back into the game that they have to win. So I just let them know that is my opinion.
- When “push back” continues say: “ I am comfortable with what I have already decided” I give no list of reasons why and no elaborations.
- The next inevitable push back say: nonetheless, “I’m holding to my decision” (then let it go) when they continue invalidating, repeat as necessary… “I am holding to my decision”.
- Do what I say I am going to do: follow through with my decisiveness. They are not going to like it, they may come back and say what I did or doing is an awful thing to do. But I let my behaviour speak for itself.
- Make no further defence: The narcissist is trying to draw me back into their game and by invalidating me they are trying to take the superior position. I am not going to put myself superior to them, I am just going to start with the belief that “I am a reasonable person” and if that’s something they would like to acknowledge the maybe we can go somewhere with that. But, if not, I just feel no need to play their game.
The key personality ingredients:
TIPS – prerequisite in personality
(Determine not to go into anger mode)
(Have confidence in yourself and your own intentions)
(Lack of shock when they need to be in control)
(Be able to spot the power play they will try)
- To go into anger mode as my response is what the narcissist wants to make me look like foolish. Because anger is my emotion of self-preservation it sometime is legitimate to speak up for myself. But in this case “I don’t want to waist my emotional energy “on someone who is going to shout it down anyway. So, I maintain my steady mindset.
- Having confidence in myself, and in my intentions. On closer examination of my intentions, I believe I am a decent person and I believe as I engage with my world that the narcissist is invalidating me over whether about how I handle thing at home or the situation with a family member or friend and continue telling me how awful I am, I know in these circumstances, I have capability of making errors and I welcome feedback when it’s positively given to me, but I am a decent person. I don’t need to tell them this because I just know it in myself.
- Hold on to a “Lack of Shock” regarding the narcissists need to be in control. When I get into that frustrated, flustered, aggravated and tense reaction to the narcissist it ‘s as if I want to say, “I can’t believe you are doing this to me”. Well, I do believe it because of the many times it has happened before. So every time I react with my harsh response, I am forgetting how many times before and what the outcome always is. So I now drop any kind of shock. (shock proof).
- Spot the power play and refuse to react… I ask myself, is my goal to establish power over this person. Clearly it is their goal to gain power over me. So, NO… I don’t need to establish power. What I want to establish is decency, dignity, respect, honour and civility. “I don’t play power the game”
Declare her today, “I am not able to change this person” but what I can do is focus on “who I am.” And me being the healthy me that I want and if they want to play the invalidity game, go right ahead but I am not going to participate in it. ‘I have got better things to do with my life” I do however hope you will see my perspective from now on.
Remember, pause, take a breath – Say and do:
1- I would like to understand what you would like me to know.
2- State my perspective, calmly
3- When I receive push back….say, I understand that is your perspective
4- I am comfortable with what I have already decided
5- Nonetheless I am holding firm to my decision
6- Do what I have said you will do
7- Make no further defence