Dealing with a Narcissist: 10 Strategies for Maintaining Your Sanity

Dealing with a narcissist can be incredibly challenging, especially when they’re a close friend, family member, or colleague. Their self-centered behavior and lack of empathy can take a toll on your mental health, and in particularly bad cases they can potentially cause you to question your own sanity.

But don’t despair. The following are some strategies you can employ to deal with a narcissist effectively.

dealing with a narcissist

Here are ten such strategies:

Strategy 1 for Dealing with a Narcissist – Understand What You’re Dealing With

Dealing with a narcissist begins with a crucial step – comprehending the insidious nature of narcissism.

Narcissism is not merely an inflated ego or an overbearing personality; it’s a complex personality disorder that manifests in a variety of ways.

Firstly, narcissists possess an exaggerated sense of self-importance.

They often view themselves as superior to others, showcasing an unshakeable belief in their own abilities and worth.

This can lead to an unrealistic perception of their own achievements and talent, making them believe they are deserving of constant admiration and praise.

Secondly, narcissists harbor a deep-seated need for attention and approval.

They crave acknowledgment and validation from others to feed their inflated self-image.

Consequently, they may become overly focused on maintaining this image, even at the expense of genuine relationships and connections.

lack of empathy

Lastly, a defining characteristic of narcissism is a lack of empathy for others.

Narcissists do not care about the feelings and needs of other people, making it challenging for them to form meaningful, reciprocal relationships.

This lack of empathy often leads to manipulative behaviors as they prioritize their own needs and desires over those of others.

Understanding these core traits of narcissism provides you with the necessary knowledge to navigate interactions with a narcissist more effectively.

It allows you to see beyond their outward behavior and understand the underlying motivations and insecurities driving their actions.

This insight is a powerful tool, enabling you to respond appropriately and maintain your own emotional health during your interactions.

Strategy 2 for Dealing with a Narcissist – Set Boundaries

One of the most common challenges when dealing with narcissists is their tendency to overstep personal boundaries.

They will not hesitate to invade your personal space, monopolize your time, or disregard your feelings, often under the guise of closeness or concern.

To protect your mental and emotional well-being, it’s crucial to establish and uphold clear boundaries.

Creating boundaries begins with self-awareness and introspection.

Identify what makes you uncomfortable or drains your energy.

Is it their constant need for attention?

Their frequent disregard for your feelings?

Or perhaps their tendency to turn every conversation into a discussion about themselves?

Once you’ve pinpointed these triggers, you can start establishing your boundaries.

For instance, if you find that your energy is depleted after spending too much time with them, you may decide to limit the duration and frequency of your interactions.

This could mean scheduling specific times to interact with them and consciously sticking to these timeframes.

Remember, it’s okay to say no when you need to. You are not obliged to be available to them at all times.

If certain topics of conversation lead to conflict or discomfort, make it clear that these subjects are off-limits.

Narcissists often engage in manipulative tactics, such as guilt-tripping or gaslighting, during discussions.

By setting conversational boundaries, you protect yourself from these potentially harmful interactions.

Enforcing boundaries can be a challenge, especially as narcissists are likely to resist any perceived restrictions.

They might try to test or push these boundaries, but it’s essential to remain firm.

Consistency is key in boundary-setting.

If a boundary is crossed, communicate your feelings clearly and assertively, reinforcing the importance of respecting these limits.

Establishing and upholding boundaries is not about controlling the narcissist’s behavior – it’s about taking care of your own needs and ensuring your own mental and emotional well-being.

It empowers you to interact with them on your own terms, providing a sense of control and stability within the often chaotic dynamic of dealing with a narcissist.

Resilience - the ability to bounce back after adversity

Strategy 3 for Dealing with a Narcissist – Cultivate Emotional Resilience

Narcissists, with their inflated sense of self-importance and lack of empathy, often resort to belittling or criticizing others as a means to elevate themselves. This behavior can be hurtful and damaging, especially if you’re on the receiving end.

However, it’s important to remember that their actions and words are a reflection of their inner turmoil and insecurities, not an accurate measure of your worth or capabilities.

Cultivating emotional resilience is key to navigating interactions with a narcissist without internalizing their negativity.

This involves developing a strong sense of self-esteem and self-worth that isn’t easily swayed by external opinions.

Remember, your value does not decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.

emotional intelligence

When faced with criticism or negative comments, try to view them objectively, almost as if you’re a third-party observer.

Ask yourself whether there’s any truth in what they’re saying.

If there is, consider it as constructive feedback for personal growth.

If there isn’t, dismiss it as merely their opinion.

This approach allows you to use the situation as a learning opportunity, rather than allowing it to erode your self-esteem.

Another essential aspect of not taking things personally is understanding the narcissist’s perspective.

Their tendency to criticize or belittle others often stems from a place of insecurity and a deep-seated fear of inadequacy.

They project these feelings onto others to protect their fragile ego.

Recognizing this can help you detach emotionally from their behavior and view their actions with more understanding and less personal hurt.

Remember, you cannot control a narcissist’s behavior, but you can control how you respond to it.

By cultivating emotional resilience and maintaining a strong sense of self-worth, you can interact with a narcissist without allowing their negativity to impact your mental and emotional well-being.

dealing with a narcissist

Strategy 4 for Dealing with a Narcissist – Steer Clear of Fruitless Disputes

Narcissists have a knack for turning even the most casual conversations into heated debates. They thrive on conflict, using it as a platform to assert their dominance, manipulate others, and feed their need for attention.

Engaging in such disputes can be an energy-draining and frustrating experience, as narcissists are typically resistant to differing viewpoints and are unlikely to concede or change their stance.

To maintain your peace of mind, it’s advisable to steer clear of these fruitless disputes. This doesn’t mean suppressing your opinions or agreeing with everything they say, but rather choosing your battles wisely.

Not every disagreement needs to turn into a full-blown argument.

If a conversation starts veering towards a potential conflict, try to de-escalate the situation by shifting the focus or opting for a more neutral stance.

Utilize effective communication techniques, such as active listening and empathetic responses, to navigate these tricky interactions.

Active listening involves paying full attention to the speaker and showing that you understand their point of view, even if you don’t agree with it.

This can help defuse potential conflicts and make the narcissist feel heard, reducing their need to resort to arguments.

When expressing your own thoughts, use “I” statements instead of “you” statements.

For example, instead of saying “You’re wrong,” you might say, “I see things differently.”

This approach makes your disagreement less confrontational and personal, thereby reducing the likelihood of triggering an argument.

active listening skills - dealing with a narcissist

Remember, it’s okay to walk away from a conversation if it becomes too heated or draining.

Prioritize your mental and emotional well-being over the need to win an argument.

With narcissists, the goal is not to prove them wrong but to preserve your sanity and emotional health.

By avoiding unnecessary arguments, you can maintain a more balanced and less stressful relationship with the narcissist

dealing with a narcissistic  - grey rock technique

Strategy 5 for Dealing with a Narcissist – Implement the Yellow Rock or Grey Rock Method

When dealing with narcissists, certain strategies can help you maintain your sanity and emotional balance.

Two such techniques are the Yellow Rock and Grey Rock methods.

These tactics are about becoming less interesting or emotionally engaging to the narcissist, thereby reducing their impact on your mental well-being.

The Yellow Rock Method

The Yellow Rock method involves giving a narcissist just enough attention to satisfy their need for engagement, but not so much that it becomes draining or harmful for you.

It’s about finding a balance between completely disengaging (which might lead to an escalation of their negative behavior) and becoming overly involved in their drama.

Using this method, you might engage in light, surface-level conversations, show interest in their stories without feeding their ego excessively, or provide them with minor compliments that don’t reinforce their grandiose self-image.

The goal is to keep interactions with the narcissist positive but minimal, thereby reducing their ability to manipulate or drain you emotionally.

The Grey Rock Method

The Grey Rock method is a technique where you make yourself as uninteresting, unresponsive, and unengaging as a grey rock.

The idea is to avoid providing the narcissist with the emotional response or attention they crave, making you a less appealing target for their manipulative tactics.

With the Grey Rock method, you remain neutral in your responses and keep your emotions under control.

Avoid sharing personal information or engaging in deep, meaningful conversations that might give them ammunition to manipulate you later.

Keep your interactions brief, factual, and devoid of emotion.

While using these methods, it’s crucial to remember that they are coping mechanisms, not solutions.

They can help you manage your interactions with a narcissist, but they will not change the narcissist’s behavior.

Strategy 6 for Dealing with a Narcissist – Cultivate a Support Network

Dealing with a narcissist can be mentally and emotionally draining.

Their manipulative tactics, constant need for admiration, and lack of empathy can leave you feeling isolated, confused, and emotionally exhausted.

In such situations, having a robust support network can be a lifeline.

Cultivating strong connections with friends and family members who understand your situation can provide much-needed emotional relief.

They can offer a listening ear, words of encouragement, and a more objective perspective on your interactions with the narcissist.

It’s essential to surround yourself with positive influences who validate your feelings and experiences, reinforcing your sense of self-worth and resilience.

lean on your friends

In addition to your personal connections, consider seeking professional help from a mental health expert, such as a psychologist or therapist.

Mental health professionals can provide valuable insights into narcissistic behavior and equip you with effective coping strategies.

They can help you navigate the emotional turbulence that often comes with dealing with a narcissist, providing tools for maintaining your mental health and emotional well-being.

build a support network

Support groups, both in-person and online, can also be a significant source of comfort and understanding.

Connecting with others who are experiencing similar situations can help you feel less alone and provide practical advice based on their own experiences.

These groups offer a safe space to share your feelings and challenges without fear of judgment or misunderstanding.

Remember, seeking support is not a sign of weakness but an act of self-care.

By leaning on your support network and utilizing available resources, you can better manage your relationship with a narcissist while safeguarding your mental and emotional health.


Strategy 7 for Dealing with a Narcissist – Stay Focused on Your Goals

Narcissists have a way of monopolizing attention and steering situations to their advantage, which can be incredibly distracting and disconcerting.

Their domineering attitude and constant need for admiration can overshadow your personal goals and aspirations, causing you to lose focus.

To counteract this, it’s essential to maintain a strong emphasis on your own objectives and not let the narcissist’s behavior derail your progress.

Firstly, clearly define your goals.

Whether these are related to your career, personal growth, hobbies, or relationships, having clear objectives provides a roadmap that can help you navigate through the distractions and manipulations of the narcissist.

Write them down, create a vision board, or use any method that helps you visualize and stay connected with what you want to achieve.

Secondly, practice self-discipline.

Staying focused amidst the chaos that a narcissist can create requires discipline.

Establish routines that support your goals, break larger objectives into manageable tasks, and commit to consistent effort.

Celebrate small victories along the way to keep your motivation high.


Additionally, set boundaries between yourself and the narcissist.

Make it clear that you will not allow their behavior to interfere with your pursuits.

This might involve limiting the time you spend with them, not engaging in their drama, or firmly stating that certain topics are off-limits.

Self-care is another crucial element in maintaining focus on your goals.

Dealing with a narcissist can be emotionally exhausting, making it even more important to prioritize activities that rejuvenate your mind and body.

Regular exercise, a healthy diet, sufficient sleep, and mindfulness practices like meditation can all contribute to better mental clarity and resilience.

Remember, your goals are valid and important. Don’t let the narcissist’s behavior deter you from pursuing what you want.

By staying focused and committed, you can achieve your aspirations despite the challenges that come with dealing with a narcissist.

mindfulness - dealing with a narcissist

Strategy 8 for Dealing with a Narcissist – Embrace Mindfulness Techniques

Mindfulness, the practice of staying fully engaged and present in the moment, can be a powerful tool when dealing with a narcissist.

Their characteristic drama and manipulation often rely on pulling you into past regrets or future anxieties. By remaining grounded in the present, you can better resist these tactics and maintain your emotional balance.

Mindfulness starts with self-awareness.

By being aware of your thoughts, feelings, and reactions, you can identify when the narcissist’s behavior is starting to affect you and choose how to respond consciously, rather than reacting impulsively.

This heightened self-awareness can help you distinguish between your genuine emotions and those triggered by the narcissist’s manipulation.


Deep breathing exercises are simple yet effective mindfulness techniques that you can use anywhere, anytime.

When you notice feelings of stress or anxiety rising, take a moment to focus on your breath.

Inhale deeply, hold for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly.

This act of focusing on your breath can help divert your attention away from the narcissist’s drama and bring your mind back to the present.

Meditation is another powerful mindfulness practice.

Regular meditation fosters mental clarity and emotional stability, which can help you stay composed in the face of the narcissist’s attempts to provoke or manipulate you.

There are many forms of meditation, such as guided meditation, mantra meditation, or mindfulness meditation, and it’s worth exploring different types to find one that suits you best.

can meditation help a narcissist to change

Mindful movement practices like yoga or tai chi can also be beneficial.

These disciplines combine physical postures with mindfulness and breath control, promoting a sense of harmony between mind and body.

They can help release tension and foster a sense of inner calm, aiding in resilience against the narcissist’s disruptive behavior.

Finally, try to incorporate mindfulness into your daily activities.

Whether you’re eating, walking, or doing chores, fully engage in the task at hand.

This practice helps you stay anchored in the present and cultivates a habit of mindfulness that can keep you grounded in interactions with the narcissist.

Remember, mindfulness is not about completely blocking out the narcissist or denying your feelings.

It’s about acknowledging your experiences without getting swept away by them.

With regular practice, mindfulness can help you maintain your equanimity and navigate your relationship with the narcissist with greater peace and clarity.

going no contact with a narcissist

Strategy 9 for Dealing with a Narcissist – Implement Low Contact or No Contact Strategies

One of the most effective strategies for preserving your mental and emotional wellbeing when dealing with a narcissist is to limit or even completely cut off contact with them.

The concept of “Low Contact” involves reducing the frequency and intensity of your interactions with the narcissist as much as possible.

This might mean avoiding unnecessary conversations, limiting the time spent together, or keeping discussions strictly professional or superficial, especially in situations where complete separation isn’t possible, such as when the narcissist is a family member, coworker, or neighbor.

Implementing Low Contact requires setting firm boundaries regarding what behaviors you will tolerate and the topics you are willing to discuss.

It’s important to be consistent in enforcing these boundaries, despite the narcissist’s likely attempts to cross them.

Remember, you have the right to protect your emotional space.

On the other hand, a “No Contact” strategy means completely severing all forms of communication with the narcissist.

This is often the best course of action if the relationship is primarily causing distress and isn’t beneficial or necessary to maintain, such as in cases of past romantic relationships or toxic friendships.

Going No Contact includes not just face-to-face interactions, but also digital communications like phone calls, texts, emails, and social media contact.

It’s a clean break designed to give you the space needed to heal, grow, and move forward without the narcissist’s negative influence.

However, implementing No Contact can be challenging, particularly at first.

You may experience feelings of guilt, fear, or doubt.

It’s crucial to remind yourself during these times that your decision is based on self-preservation and the need for a healthier and more positive environment.

Going Low Contact or No Contact aims to minimize the narcissist’s impact on your life.

It’s a step towards regaining control over your emotional environment and prioritizing your mental health.

Remember, it’s not about punishing the narcissist, but about creating the space you need to thrive

Strategy 10 for Dealing with a Narcissist – Seek Assistance from Professional Resources

Dealing with a narcissist can be an arduous journey, often leaving one feeling emotionally drained and mentally exhausted.

If you’re finding it challenging to navigate this complex situation on your own, seeking professional help can be a significant step towards healing and growth.

Therapists or counselors can provide a safe and supportive environment for you to express your feelings and experiences.

They can help you understand the dynamics of your relationship with the narcissist, validate your experiences, and guide you towards acceptance and recovery.

Professional guidance comes with the advantage of personalized strategies tailored to your unique situation.

Therapists can help you develop effective coping mechanisms, such as assertiveness skills, boundary-setting techniques, and self-care routines, which are crucial when interacting with a narcissist.

The Role of Therapy in Healing Childhood Trauma in Adults

Group therapy or support groups can also be beneficial.

Sharing experiences with others who have faced similar situations can bring a sense of community and understanding, reducing feelings of isolation.

These groups often provide practical tips and insights based on real-life experiences, which can be incredibly valuable.

For those in extreme situations where the narcissist’s behavior has escalated to abuse, professionals can provide resources and strategies for safety planning. This might include assistance with legal matters, emergency housing, or connecting you with local support services.

Moreover, if the stress of dealing with a narcissist has led to mental health issues like anxiety or depression, a mental health professional can provide appropriate treatment options, including therapy, medication, or a combination of both.

Remember, seeking professional help is not a sign of weakness, but rather a proactive step towards reclaiming your life from the influence of the narcissist.

It’s about prioritizing your wellbeing and equipping yourself with the tools needed to navigate this challenging situation. You don’t have to face this alone; there are professionals ready to offer their expertise and support


Concluding Thoughts

Dealing with a narcissist can indeed be a daunting experience, filled with emotional turbulence and mental stress. Their tendency to manipulate, dominate, and disregard others’ feelings often makes maintaining a balanced relationship feel like an uphill battle.

However, it’s crucial to remember that while you may not control their behavior, you have complete authority over your reactions and responses.

By utilizing the strategies discussed, such as establishing firm boundaries, practicing mindfulness, limiting contact, and seeking professional help, you empower yourself.

These tools equip you to manage your interactions with the narcissist in a healthier, more productive way, enabling you to safeguard your emotional wellbeing.

Implementing these techniques doesn’t mean the journey will be easy or without challenges. There will likely be moments of self-doubt, frustration, and exhaustion.

But remember, every step you take towards asserting your needs and protecting your mental health is a victory in itself.

It’s also important to remember that it’s okay to prioritize your wellbeing, even if that means distancing yourself from the narcissist or severing ties completely. Your mental and emotional health should always come first.

Frequently Asked Questions about Narcissism

Frequently Asked Questions about Dealing with a Narcissist

What is narcissism?

Narcissism refers to a personality disorder characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.

How can I identify a narcissist?

Narcissists often come across as extremely confident and charming at first.

However, they will also display signs such as a sense of entitlement, a constant need for praise, difficulty handling criticism, disregard for others’ feelings, and manipulative behaviors.

Can a narcissist change their behavior?

While it’s possible for anyone to change their behavior, it’s challenging for narcissists due to their lack of self-awareness and reluctance to acknowledge their flaws.

Any significant change usually requires professional intervention and a strong personal commitment to self-improvement.

How should I communicate with a narcissist?

When communicating with a narcissist, it’s essential to establish clear boundaries, stay calm and composed, avoid getting drawn into arguments, and always prioritize your mental and emotional health.

Can I maintain a relationship with a narcissist?

Maintaining a relationship with a narcissist can be very stressful and emotionally draining.

However, with firm boundaries, self-care practices, and possibly professional help, it may be manageable in some cases.

Each situation is unique and depends on the severity of the narcissistic behavior and the nature of the relationship.

How can professional help assist me in dealing with a narcissist?

Professionals like therapists or counselors can provide valuable tools and strategies to cope with a narcissist.

They can help you understand the dynamics of your relationship, validate your experiences, and guide you towards acceptance and recovery.

What does “No Contact” mean?

“No Contact” is a strategy often used when dealing with a narcissist, which involves completely severing all forms of communication with them.

It’s typically employed in situations where the relationship is causing more harm than good.

How can I protect my mental health when dealing with a narcissist?

Protecting your mental health involves setting and enforcing boundaries, practicing self-care, seeking support from loved ones or professionals, and reducing or eliminating contact with the narcissist, if necessary.

What should I do if I’m in an abusive relationship with a narcissist?

If you’re in an abusive situation, it’s crucial to seek help immediately. Reach out to local authorities, a trusted friend or family member, or a professional organization specializing in domestic abuse. Safety should always be the priority.

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