Narcissistic Personality Disorder = a Bad Case of False Pride
Note: This article deals mainly with how to deal with Narcissistic Personality Disorder in a marriage partner – but if you recognize these symptoms in yourself please visit the page here:
Have you ever done something you were so scared and ashamed of that the only way you could deal with it was to lie and blame someone else?
For instance when you were a kid maybe you broke something of your mothers that was precious to her or failed to finish an assignment on time or seriously neglected your chores?
And after lying and putting the blame on someone else to get out of trouble you may have said something to yourself like …
“They wouldn’t have believed the truth if I told them anyway” or “She is always such a b—h to me, really she deserved to take the blame”, or “Life is just so unfair — how is anyone expected to play by the rules anyway?”
And if the situation worked out okay for you — chances are you might have started using this strategy over and over again.
And soon you might have found yourself with symptoms of a bad case of false pride, such as …
- A general sense of guilt and shame that you experience most of the time.
- Needing to see yourself as a victim and feel sorry for yourself to deal with these feelings.
- Having to compensate by puffing yourself up and believing yourself special and that the rules for everyone else don’t apply to you (because you find you are now breaking them all the time).
A child with good parents may get help from them at some point finding their way out of this trap …
Helping my Son Deal with his False Pride
I remember when my son had developed a bad case of false pride at school. I had complaints coming home from his teachers about his loud and opinionated behavior and general lack of discipline – but what he didn’t know was that other students (including kids he considered friends) had been complaining to his teachers about him too. When I shared this information with him, the shame welled right up to the surface and right on cue he began being nasty and blaming me. Lucky I have become pretty good at recognizing this malady over the years and so when this began I quickly ended the conversation and decided to let him sweat it out on his own and I got on with my work.
For a few days he sulked and generally made it clear that he hated me and tried to make out that really the problem was all me. But although my heart was feeling very hurt by his behavior I knew I had to stand strong and get on with my life and not cave in to this pressure from him.
Then when things had really got bad for him and he was just laying in his room on the bed with his back to the door facing the corner, I came in and said quietly “It looks like you have painted yourself into a pretty bad corner with your teachers and friends at school – do you need some help getting out of the mess that you are in?”
His pride still had a grip on him and so all he could do was give the wall he was facing the tiniest nod.
So then I sat down on the bed and said, “Telling people you are embarrassed about what you have done is really tough – but people will usually forgive you if you do. There is a catch though and I wonder if you can you guess what that is?”, he then rolled to face me and said, “They might forgive me once – but I won’t get away with it again?”, and I said “Exactly”, and gave him a hug and said, “Being sorry is not going to be enough – admitting you are embarrassed is going to be hard – but really that is the key.”
So the next day when my son went to school I have never seen him look so scared – but when he came home I have also never seen him look so happy or relieved. You see not only had his teachers forgiven him, but when he admitted he was embarrassed they also gave him a lot of affection and warmth.
Maybe you have heard me tell this story before? I am sharing it again today because I hope that it helps you understand the dynamics of this.
Why someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder Just has to Put the Blame on You
If you live with someone who has narcissistic tendencies, every time they have doubts or fears about themselves that make them feel bad – they will put you down and blame you (for why they feel bad) to try and make themselves feel better.
They do this because they don’t want to look at their own guilt and shame that has now grown to out of control proportions from blaming other people and not facing their own short comings for most of their life.
So when you start trying to stand up for yourself they will push even harder to try and put all the blame for how they are feeling back on to you.
Needing to Blame Someone Else Helps Choose the People they Hang Out With
And because it is so important for them to be able to blame someone else, people with Narcissistic tendencies will usually try and team up with people who are emotional caretakers, who will want to smooth things over and keep the peace — or else when they do finally get ‘pushed too far’ will over react and then look like they truly are the ones that are to blame for their misdeeds. They will also lie about their partner so their friends might say things like, “no wonder he cheats on her when she is such a b—h!”
The tendency in partners of people with narcissistic tendencies to be easy scapegoats is called co dependence – or we like to say emotional dependence. This describes a person who needs the people around them to be happy for them to be happy – and will take on other people’s bad feelings as their responsibility. People like this are so busy trying to make everything okay that they are usually very bad at standing up for themselves. Instead they worry what the result will be from every little thing they do or say.
Stop Being an Easy Target!
So if you are living with someone who puts you down – I suggest you stop trying to figure out what your partner’s response will be to your actions and instead just start doing what is right no matter what happens as a result.
Because when you stop needing to keep everyone happy all the time, you will find out — like in the case with my son — that to do the right thing sometimes you can’t avoid making people angry with you.
Finding the Courage to Stand up for Yourself
It is probably because it takes the courage to stop worrying about making your partner angry that people often get to where they are ready to end their relationship before they find the strength to do what really needs to be done. This is a shame because standing up to a person’s Narcissistic tendencies will help them (and usually win their respect) and can often even save your marriage. But being emotionally prepared and strong enough to walk away if you have to certainly can help you have more strength and resolve.
Threatening to leave won’t help however and will probably only make the fight worse.
So today here are a few scripts that might help you better enforce a zero abuse policy in your home – but you need to know that in the beginning these will probably make a narcissistic partner very frustrated and angry and may also make them sulk
These should all be said as you disengage and walk away from their attempts to blame their bad feelings on you:
- “I am not the cause of your misery – what’s making you miserable is your own false pride.”
- I am not concerned about what happens in the future – what I am concerned about is that you start being a father that sets a good example of respecting women to his sons.”
- “Is you feeling that you are superior and right all the time really worth dragging us all through hell?”
- “You are not better than me.”
- “Get a grip on yourself or I will need to call child protection services and get them to explain the impact of your verbal abuse on me and the kids.”
- “The only thing making you miserable is your own false pride.” (broken record every time they play the old saw that it is you that is making their life miserable)
- “It takes a big person to admit they’re wrong.”
- “I love you and I will always stand by you – but you blaming me for your own guilt and shame is something that is going to change.“
- “I don’t care what you claim I have done — it is never okay to call someone names.”
- “If you are so smart try learning some manners.”
- “Do you really think the world would end if you just admitted you were wrong?”
- “Will you be subjecting our family to a tirade about how bad a person I am this Christmas? No one is going to reject you if you get off your high horse and just give us all a break this year and start practicing better self control.”
- “Why don’t you just give it a break and stop blaming your own bad behaviour on me.”
All of these comebacks are going to put pressure on the sore spot they are trying to hide from which is their own sense of shame (which is probably already eating them alive).
And this means that in the beginning things will probably get worse – and you will need to be 100% ready to stay calm and ride out the storm without trying to get involved and help resolve their negative stuff.
Their feelings of guilt, shame and inadequacy are not yours and you can’t fix this for them and you must stop taking this on.
If they hate you just let that be and get on with the things you need to do. You do not need to take their anger on. Slow down your breathing and imagine the hurt in your chest growing bigger and bigger like a balloon and then popping and it all blowing away. Then imagine your own inner spring of happiness welling up inside you replacing the bad feelings that were never yours anyway.
They are mad at you – so what? How many times has that happened before? You need to stop letting that control you and instead locate your own source of internal happiness and use magic invisible scissors to cut the cords linking you to worrying about them and instead get on with your day.
If you refuse to be their scape goat by not getting involved it won’t be long until they have no where to hide. Then as the pressure grows (because you will not allow them to discharge their bad feelings onto you) and things get worse for them, it will also highlight their own behavior as being what is wrong.
So yes this will cause the pressure to build and if you’re in a relationship that is volatile already you will need to have child protection services or the police on hand for back up – or else a shelter arranged for you to leave to when their tantrums start again.
But it is vital that you are able to call someone else in or walk away – because you cannot keep letting their tantrums dominate your life.
I know that this is hard but it is about you facing your own pride in the fact that you cannot make this better unless you admit that there is a problem and that you can’t deal with this on your own.
If the fighting has escalated out of control in your home in the past, please look at Special Offer 1 : Back from the Looking Glass 13 Steps to a Peaceful Home and 10 Steps to Overcome Codependence before you take these steps.
Because it is not up to you to “just leave” if you don’t like it. If you live with an adult who projects their shame onto you, their behavior is the problem and it is vital that you stand your ground and don’t allow yourself to be be pushed out of your home indefinitely.
Police or child protection services will help you (if you learn how to best ask for help and how to talk to them) and you need to stop worrying that your situation is not bad enough to warrant their help. If you are being insulted and bullied your situation is bad enough and this situation will cause you (and your kids if you have them) long term harm if you don’t see it resolved.
And if you don’t stop letting them get away with projecting blame onto you? Even if you separate this bad habit of theirs will continue.
If you have kids they will need to learn to express their shame in a healthy way one day too -just like you need to help your partner with this now.
But the only way to help is for you to start putting it back on them and setting up a 100% policy of you standing up for yourself. Then when they stop seeing you as a soft target that they can discharge their feelings of shame and inadequacy on, they will either find a new scapegoat or else their false pride will likely implode.
And this may look more like a nervous breakdown than them turning magically into prince charming – because when the walls of someone’s false pride come down it can be surprising how vulnerable a person you will find inside.
But this is the real person and the only place where real growth and development can start.
So if you are looking for the magic kiss that will turn your warty frog into a prince – you better go looking someplace else.
Because once their walls come down they will be vulnerable as a child and you will probably need to help guide them to put new and healthier habits in place.
But I don’t know any other way to handle this and most other professionals will tell you there is no hope at all. Because a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder has painted themselves into such a terrible corner with their own unhealthy thought patterns that the only way to help them is to stop letting them drag you into their hell.
What do you think the anger you feel about their behavior is telling you? You need to listen to your anger and trust that their criticism of you is unjustified — but don’t let them drag you down to their level by waiting until you are angry and provoked to respond.
Instead you need to start defending yourself by using one of the comeback lines above every time they try and discharge their shame onto you and at the same time disengage just as soon as you can.
Then get on with your own life and find stuff uplifting to do and stop worrying about how to make things right.
Making them face their own shame is not bad of you – your narcissistic partner needs to do this if they are ever going to escape the living hell they have built for themselves.
Other possible comeback lines could be …
“The truth is that you should feel completely ashamed of how you talk to me and deep down inside I know you probably are. But will you ever be a big enough person to admit that? Only time will tell.”
“Why don’t you just come and hang out with us for a while without you needing to work so hard to prove yourself and be in control? You might be surprised to find out what it is like around here when you are not around. You don’t need to do anything to have me or the kids love and accept you – You don’t need to do or say anything. The kids and I would love to have you sit and watch TV with us or do anything that doesn’t involve you needing to put on a show.”
Hang in there and Have a Merry and safe Christmas