You can often find yourself locked in a kind of mental ‘tug of war’, where you feel you’re being constantly pulled out of your own version of reality, and of truth, over to seeing things from the NPD person’s warped perspective of what’s really going on. (I.E, you’re to blame for everything, and they are perfect.)
The main reason this happens is because NPD people can’t accept that they are wrong, flawed or imperfect. They can’t take responsibility for their own negative actions, thoughts and behaviours, and they have to see themselves as the ‘victim’ of circumstances.
And not infrequently, you can have overlapping personality disorders, with NPD and BPD habits, for example, present in the same person. When a person is simply unable to accept, under any circumstances, that they have done something wrong or hurtful, or acted incorrectly, that’s the single biggest signpost I know of flagging a potential NPD problem.
I think NPD people were probably unfairly blamed, criticized, shamed, punished and eviscerated so much as children - by the NPD people in their own lives - that the thought of taking responsibility for anything they do as adults, even the really bad things, simply overwhelms the brain too much, leading to their mentally-ill behavior. (Again, I’ll describe the science describing how the brain reacts in another post, God willing.)
But for now, we’re still looking at how YOU can disentangle yourself from these very emotionally disturbing relationships and people, without having to go for the ‘no contact’ nuclear option. One of the single best ways of defusing the emotional fall-out from dealing with these people is visualisations.
Visualisations allow your brain to process all the upset, hurt, anger, fear etc that is part and parcel of dealing with emotionally-abusive people, so that all that negative energy doesn’t get ‘stuck’ in your own physiology and soul, where it can start disrupting your own emotional and physical health, if its left to accumulate.
The following visualization, called ‘The River’, will help you to stop playing emotional ‘tug of war’ with the NPD people in your life, where you’re endlessly reliving their last comments, and the last ‘confrontation’ you had with them, because you’re trying to re-establish and re-assert your own truth in the face of all their lies and evasions. It’s helped me a lot, and I hope it’ll help you, too.
As with all visualisations, it’s best to do this when you are alone, sitting or lying down in a comfortable position, and where you feel safe - i.e., no-one is going to barge in on you, or interrupt your experience. Also, turn your mobile phone off!
- Close your eyes and take three deep breaths.
- Picture yourself pulling a big, thick rope. Picture your NPD person (or people) pulling the other end of this rope. Recognise how much effort is required to keep pulling the rope; how much stress and fatigue this is causing you; how much upset and panic you feel when they succeed in tugging you forward out of your position.
- Choose to put the rope down. Drop it, place it carefully on the floor, have someone else come over and take it out of your hands, if you’re finding it very difficult to let go of it by yourself.
- Feel how much more relaxed you are, now you aren’t pulling that rope. Savour the experience for a few moments.
- Watch the rope go up in flames. If you’ve been engaged in an emotional ‘tug of war’ for a while, it can be very hard to suddenly let go of the argument or situation. Burning the rope sends a very strong message to your subconscious that you do not want to return to this ‘tug of war’, no matter what provocation you get in the future.
- Look at the mound of dust where the rope used to be. Watch that mound of dust widen out into a river. You are on one side of the river, and the NPD person or people are on the other side. Trust your subconscious mind to make this river as wide and challenging as it needs to be, to protect you from the NPD people.
- Tell the NPD people on the other bank that this river is a river of purification and teshuva. As soon as they make teshuva for how they’ve treated you, they can get across the river and have a relationship with you again. But until that happens, they will have to stay on the other bank. See how they react to this statement.
- Notice if anyone else is with you on your side of the river. Often, these ‘tugs of war’ involve many other people in our lives too, especially if the NPD person or people are family members. See who is on the other bank; notice who is with you on your bank, and pay attention to anyone who seems somehow ‘stuck’ or adrift in the river. If a person is adrift in the river, ask them what they’re doing there, and depending on their response, decide if you want to leave them there, or send a rescue boat to take them to shore. Decide which side of the river they need to be taken to.
- When you are done, wave goodbye to the NPD people on the other side of river. Know that this is YOUR river, and you control who can get across it. Reassure yourself that no-one can come across without first making amends for how they’ve treated you, and fundamentally changing in someway. If the NPD person or people are still scaring you, ask God to get involved in protecting you from them, in whichever way that needs to happen.