If you’ve discovered you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, you have a key decision to make to guard and restore your sense of self and wellbeing: do you leave physically now, or leave mentally and emotionally by disentangling and taking back the reins to your sense of self, mind and heart?
In either case, you will need to cultivatea clear understanding of the narcissist’s worldview, as separate and foreign to yours,as a human being, so that you may identify and avoid the gaslighting and mind-gametraps they set, and begin to practice new responses to them, and in general to do so as a critical process you must engage in to deprogram your mind and heart from the narcissistic abuse, to heal, restore a sense of sanity, clarity, and free to be you yourself inside authenticity.
It takes time totrain your brain and body to not activate your survival response unnecessarily, and, like it or not, the best context to unlearn old (codependency) patterns, and replace them with new response-habits,occurs inkey moments when you are interacting with the narcissist.
In order to respond in disentangling ways, and disallow old reactive programming, first and foremost,it’s abouthow you respond to yourself, how you manageyour own inner thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations, so that you maydo so in ways thatgrow, heal and transform you.
A key ability you want to master consciousemotional detachment a learned abilityto own what is yours to control, and let go of what is not, and do so not out of fear, but out of love for yourself and life, a mindful, conscious way of responding in the moment that does not activate your body’s survival response. Instead to consciously activate your body’s relaxation response, which keeps your mind and body and higher cortex connected. It is the onlyoptionthat allows you to remain connected to the inner sources of strength and courage, reflecting thinking, informed decision-making, your vision of a brighter future, what you want and need, dream, and so on.
Here are 7 steps to cultivate a healing practice of consciousemotional detachment.
1. Stop trying to “get” the narcissist from a human vantage point. Focus on getting you and why the narcissist — never the narcissist!
A narcissist wants you to obsess on trying to understand, explain, and to do so from a “human” reference point and value system. It’s a key way they cause confusion, but also how they hide! First realize, this not only fails, it is also the trap door! As long as you try to understand them as human, they know regardless what they do, they can count on you excusing them. They will play on your empathy, and reverse in your mind the abuser versus the abused.
In reality, they feel scorn for human values as weak, disgust for “weak” persons who think it’s normal to be “nice” or empathize, to have human conversations and build collaborative relationships. For example, they viewtheir ability to deceive, to outsmart, toemotionally manipulate, to subvert your will as evidence of their superior status in relation to you, and they look for what they regard as easy targets (whom they regard as weak, inferior, etc.), that is, personswho refuse to be anything butnice, kind, loving, etc., and easilyguilted, shamed, or told what they want to hear.
To emotionally detach heremeans to “observe” and “see” their intent is 24/7 always on to cripple, confuse, discredit, instill self-doubt, self-blame, to get you to question your sanity. They are trying to get you to surrender the reins to your mind and common sense reality! They want to activate your fear-response, to derail your plans, confuse your thinking, make you feel frustrated, angry, indignant — and when you explode in frustration, to blame you and point the finger, to label you as selfish, controlling, crazy, narcissistic, in other words, to project what they do onto you. If you want to understand what the “real” problem is, do yourself a favor. Seek to understand why they get to you: because you are human! To seek to understand, explain, grow, reconsider, etc., is what humans do. But they refuse, reject, war to eliminate what is human in relationships! This is the reason you must detach consciously to never engage in human terms with a narcissist, and instead mirror back what they do. In other words, stoptrying to understand or explain their actions from your worldview of what it means to be human, and in a relationship with another human being.Your focus and effortsinstead need to be onunderstanding what narcissism is (careful, there are a lot of misleading articles…), and in particular, to gain anunderstanding of the narcissist’s worldview– and then accept this reality.This allows you to “see” howthey perceivethemselves, you and theirrelationshipwith you.
2. Let go of a “neediness” for the narcissist to get you!
If you find yourself repeatedlyexplaining to the narcissist what they do that hurts and wounds you, or feeling you haveto justify your actions to help the narcissistdeal with their “insecurities,” think again. Keeping others in pain gives them pleasure, and a narcissist associates this ability with strength, proofof their superiority. The narcissist views the world as revolving around them, and thus they see themselves as entitled to prove their superiority on the basis of hurting or subverting their partners will (or, in case of covert narcissism, blocking their partners every attempt to gain cooperation). They view it as their job to be in control of their partners thoughts and emotions, and tonever be controlled;and thus, they feel entitled to treat others as they wish or please. To them, they’re in misery, and entitled to use those who love them as punching bags. From this worldview,its reasonable tohurt and punish, and”train” othersto stay focused on the only subject (them) that matters.
3. Let go of needing closure with them.
Understand that, from their vantage point, their top priority is to prove you never get any satisfation or credit for resolving issues that you may think are driving the conflict. What seems to be the problem is likely not the problem! The problem is that, although you’ve beenthe one whomost has the narcissists back, they narcissist views you as a fierce competitor, whose out to dominate or control them if they were to let down their guard. From their perspective, there is nosuch thing as a partnership. All relationships, in partner couples, are between a top dog and underdog. You think youre playing the game of life, but theyre always watching their back, playing king of the hill!That explains why they’re rarely “off” guard, and mostly “on”24/7.
4. Let go of trying to change or heal them.
They wont let you (or a therapist)! Their game plan is to be charming one moment, cocky the next, miserable in between, and so on, constantly devising ways to suck attention, and energy around them.After all, this is how they capture victims, keep them spinning their wheels, make them feeling increasingly inadequate, ever losing confidence, esteem, belief and hope. Based on their worldview, it is reasonable to displaytheir superiority based on skills, such as gaslighting, to keep othersguessing, doubting or second guessingthemselves, confused andworking hard (spinning wheels) to figure out what’s happening. They can change, of course, in that they have the same ability for change as everyone else. The main blocking factor is the meaning they ascribe to being human. From their view, humans fall in dichotomous categories of strong versus weak, superior versus inferior, those who rule and those meant to be ruled, master versus slave, and the like.They are so needy that they hate feeling human in any way, rather compulsively look for evidence that they are among the select few superior- or super-humans.It’s no wonder that theyconstantly display a “neediness” to prove their superiority, and other’sinferiority. Thisis one of their main drugs.Misery loves company, as the saying goes; your happiness is integral to your health, thus an important (and beautiful) responsibility. Own it.
5. Let go of trying to please them.
This doesn’t mean to never do pleasing things; it just means, when you do, make sure you do so, firstly,because it pleases you to do so and so, or such and such, and secondly, to never expect to get anycredit!Atrue narcissist rarely if ever expresses gratitude and appreciation for their partner (or others, that is, except in situations where they are publicly seeking to impress, convey a certain image for their personal gain, impress or con others into thinking theyre the good guy, and their spouse is the bad guy, etc.).Thus, what you’re letting go is depending on them to fulfill the yearning inside you to feel they value your contributions and that you exist as a valued partner.They won’t let this happen! A true narcissist thinks its their job to keep you feeling disapproved or inadequate, and this is consistent with their belief that the world revolves around them.It’s against their belief system, as: only inferior humans express gratitude and give credit to others. Also, dont expect them to reciprocate. They view their partners like possessions, work horses or slaves, and they avoid work they considermenial and beneath them.In their mind, slaves do the work, and masters keep slavesworking hard to please them, afraid not to, ever trying to win their favor, perhaps geta crumb or two tossed their way.
6. Let go ofempathizing/seeing the narcissist’ view(!).
A narcissist actively seeks to get into others minds and impose their worldview. They want you to think of them as their master. They want you to think of yourself as a slave who has one purpose, and that is toserve at their pleasure. Based on their worldview, empathy is a trait that is never associated with those who arestrong, mighty, superior; and rather those who are weak, inferior, low status, etc. According to their game plan, they seek those who empathize, to hoard it, and pride themselves in not being moved by others pain. So it’s not only futile to tellthem how much they hurt you, and describe why this is wounding, it also gives them insideinformation touse against you. In relationaltherapy contexts, anarcissistoften identifiesthemselves during drills that require empathic listening, for example, where they literallyrefuse or find ways to dance around any requests for them toparaphrase and repeat what they heard their partners say.
The more you empathize with them, or try to, the more space you give them to get into your mind, to control how you think and feel about them, yourself, your relationship, and every situation! For example, you may have found that, the more you try to empathize with how they feel, the more youfall into taking all the responsibility for any wrongs or bad outcomes, blamingyourself for theirongoing insecurities and unhappiness,” makingexcuses or justifying their wrongful or hurtful actions, and so on.
7. Let go of thinking or talkingwith avictim-voice.
You are who you think you are, and become what you think and speak into being. The narcissist has methodically dedicated time and effort to getting inside your mind to ensure you think and believe what serves them and their highest interest for controlling your life, isolating you from others, depending solely on them for emotional or financial support and so on. For example, they keep trying to get you to think they are the victim,to hold your attention and focus, and take your energies hostage.
In truth, they cannot get to you unless you allow them. It also helps to observe your own inner resistance, for example, a refusal to believethat their actions are intentionallycold, calculating, or that they take pleasure in hurting you emotionally. It’s cold, and yes it hurts; but facing this pain is not your enemy, it’s abest friend or teacher. The real enemy is what causes emotional suffering, that is, avoiding the pain of growing out of old comfort zones (same applies tothe narcissist).
In sum, consciously-loving emotional detachment is a practice that allows you to avoid unnecessary activiating your bodys survival response, and keep your mind and body in optimal emotional states of being, so that you haveaccess to inner resources and informed choices.
It is a gift you give yourself (and ultimately the other), though may not sound like it at first.
Potentially, it’s also a gift to the narcissist, as it offersthe best context in whichthe narcissist partner canopt toheal themselves(however, thismust not be your primary focus!). If youreally, really want to heal and break free of toxic patterns, yourfocus must remain primarily on you, and your own inner change.
Truth be told,every partner who wants ahealthy, long lasting love relationship must come to grips with the reality, that: You cannot heal or be genuinely healthy for another if you’re not genuinely invested in your own growth health and wellbeing.
Learning how to protect your health, growth and happiness is one of the most loving thingyou can doto be andbring your best to your life, and all your relationships, to include the one with yourself.