Do not argue with a narcissist. No no no. Just don’t bother, and don’t take the risk of arguing with a narcissist especially if you are still living with the narcissist or if he has some sort of control (financial or work related) over you.
See when you come to a point where you see the narcissist for who he is, you will start to question all his statements, claims and advice. So there are going to be many arguments. But the point is you are wasting your time. Worse still. If he is a malignant narcissist or if he is just in a bad mood, he will try to get back at you for making him lose. You see, you have just increased his insecurity and narcissists react to that by either pretending that the incident never occurred or getting revenge for what you did so that they feel again that they know better than you do.
My advice is: give the narcissist exactly what he loves to give everyone. Verbal fodder. What I mean is, if he is forcing you to do anything just agree with him verbally without really doing anything for as long as you can.
Let me explain this with an example, you told your narcissist husband (just for the records, I am not married, this is just an example) that you are learning a topic and you love the way it is explained in one book. The most obvious reaction of Mr. Narcissist would be, “I know a better book on that topic. That author is really good. You should read it; I’ll get it for you.” See? Total disregard for your good opinion about something. He doesn’t like you liking anything other than him or something that HE recommended to you.
Now what would you do in this situation? If you are anything like me, you would react by trying to defend your book. Useless verbal argument that he will quash or just ignore. Then he would actually bring this book to you the next day and you will probably obey him and read it. Well and good. But someone like me wants to finish what she has started, so I generally say, I’ll read that one when I am done with this.
Now that is where the trouble starts. You will see all sorts of obstacles when you try to read. He will try to make other plans when he knows you are planning to study or he will just come and disturb you and start talking about HIS recommended book again. Someone like my dad would even yell at you for reading such a despicable book on the topic and not respecting his experience and advice. A subtle narcissist would make fun of your book or probably hide it or destroy it when you are not watching.
So ok, those are the problems we face, but what is the solution? It’s easier than you think. Just agree to what he says. Nod your head in agreement. Show interest in the book he has recommended. Pretend to read it for a while when he is around. Then he will lose interest in the whole thing and you can continue to read and learn your way when he is not watching. Whenever he does ask you about it, throw in a few praises for the book he gave you, thank him for it, give him credit for his help and he will probably give you a few more books on the topic (which for all you know may turn out to be useful).
If you perform well in the topic and achieve something in an exam or competition, do not forget to give him credit. WHY SHOULD HE BE GIVEN CREDIT? Because for him you are just an extension of his person. So if you have an achievement where he does not have a role to play, he will not let you keep it. It makes him insecure to find that you could have an existence and success independent of him.
So in our example situation, if you get a prize and don’t give him the credit (in a convincing manner i.e. by pointing out how he helped you by giving you such wonderful books), he will let you keep the prize but he will not let you further improve and get better at that topic. He will not rest till you either lose interest in it or start to think you are not good at it. DO YOU GET ME? He cannot tolerate you having an achievement if it does not somehow translate into his achievement. So, for as long as you are under his control, agree verbally to everything he says and give him credit for any achievement or talent that you like and want to retain in your life.
I would like to quote here Law 1 of the book “48 Laws of Power” by Roberte Greene: “Never Outshine Your Master”. It says “Always make those above you feel comfortably superior. In your desire to please or impress them, do not go too far in displaying your talents or you might accomplish the opposite – inspire fear and insecurity”.
So you get what I mean. Do you? I hope you do.
Of course all this advice is assuming that you plan to one day distance yourself from the narcissist and RUN for your life. Just subtly move out. Agreeing verbally to everything someone says means you are lying. It is not healthy. But it’s a necessity for surviving with the narcissist so that you can plan your escape when you are ready. See like many others, my advice will always be that you have to eventually let go of any relation with a narcissist. You have to bear in mind that you have just one good life and if you leave it in his (or her) hands, he will use it as his toy and then take you along with him to doom. Your purpose in life would basically be self-sacrifice for his amusement, satisfaction or betterment, with no independent identity for you.
Since it is a bit related, I would add one more thing here. As far as possible, never let a narcissist know of your weaknesses, your innermost desires or anything that is very important to you. Why? Because a narcissist is conditioned to pull strings and he will certainly manipulate you by giving you the hope of helping you fulfil your dreams and desires.
And why not let him know if an object or person is very important to you? Because if he knows, he will destroy it. Nothing should be more important for you than HE HIMSELF (or herself as the case may be). If you are already in this situation, try to solve it by giving him some credit in it, if it is possible. If somehow you can convince him that it is his gift and reminds you of him somehow then you may have a chance. But if you are not convincing enough he may still retain the insecurity, so it’s not easy.
For months I was trying to find a good article on how to deal with a narcissistic parent when you are forced to live with him and need to manage for some time, but couldn’t find one. Then in the last few days as I was dealing with my own issues I suddenly had the answer . So here is my first post on how to deal with a narcissist. Many more will come in time.
To all those who are suffering terribly under the control of a Malignant Narcissist, you may find insightful observations and useful tips from the experience of this awesome blogger:
Update: When I say “agree with him verbally without really doing anything for as long as you can” I also must ask you to be careful. If they find out that you are deceiving them this way they will be enraged. So you must be careful about what you do secretly and how well you hide your deliberate avoidance from them. If caught I would recommend you pretend that you tried but could not succeed in following their directions instead of rebelling as you would be tempted to do.