There are many people who are toxic or harmful to be around these days. Always these people are masquerading as ‘normal’ members of society (they wouldn’t get their needs met otherwise).
We like to think we spot such people early, but sometimes we don’t. I have found there are two types people who seem to have more challenges with this:
1. People who are genuinely kind hearted and just don’t see it. They assume everyone is like them, or at least would mean them no harm.
These people are a bit naïve perhaps, but are very loving and naturally supportive. These people focus on people’s good qualities and make assumptions such as “She seems so nice, so fun, so warm”, “She has a good job, so she must communicate well and can’t be that chaotic after all.
The trouble here is who the person truly is and how they are behaving (some of the time), doesn’t match with who the other person has decided they must be. We are very good at attributing certain characteristics to people who we decide fit certain boxes.
2. People who have had trauma in their past, who have had dysfunctional, abusive or chaotic relationships and families.
This group tolerates poor behavior and explains away red flags like champions, as they’ve had to, to survive. Unfortunately toxic individuals can sense this and love to take advantage of it.
These individuals may be unsupported in their lives and vulnerable and narcs sense this. They are also needy, because of their past experiences and therefore they may place an extreme importance on friendship and may have a misguided loyalty to those who least deserve it.
People who fall into both of these categories, are doubly at risk. However, there is hope for these individuals if they are open to grow and learn, rather than getting crushed by their experiences of toxic people. They can take all of this information and integrate it into wisdom to become almost ‘narcissist proof’.
This would be by way of understanding behavioral cues, acknowledging red flags, owning their own feelings that something is off and setting boundaries that they enforce regardless of any mitigating factors.
It’s also about not going into self doubt and NOT placing a sense of compassion for the narcs struggles ahead of our own well-being. We must trust that if we do our inner work, we will be on the right path for more loving individuals to show up.
HERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS WE CAN ASK OURSELVES IF WE ARE UNSURE IF SOMEONE IS A FRIEND OR IS HARMFUL TO US
❓ Truth, is this person a contribution to me?
❓ Truth, what is this funny energy/thing that I’m aware of?
❓Is this friendship working for me?
❓ Is it time to move on now with truth and grace?
❓ What’s required here?
❓ Can this be changed?
❓ Can I change it?
❓ Do I need to cut this person lose?
❓ Am I willing to tolerate this?
❓ How much am I willing to tolerate?
❓ Who does this ‘funky feeling’ belong to? Is it mine?
The purpose of the questions is to become focused and aware of what we know, that we haven’t acknowledged, because we have been deceived or misled, or we haven’t yet fully clicked on to what is happening.
Depending on how well we know someone, narcs can keep up a front for typically about 12 weeks, or in a less immediate/intimate friendship for up to a year/eighteen months.
There is often a difficulty when people feel a sense of loyalty to the narcissist. It’s a big shift from trusted friend to “Omg, you’re really, truly like that”???
It’s often a shock, to discover that someone you have held in high regard is really capable of treacherous thoughts or behaviors. Or perhaps, they have been manipulating or judging us this whole time, or they have a disorder that they have been masking.
This can be very surreal as you may share many friends in common with this toxic individual. You may be the first or only person to have uncovered these traits, or who’s gotten to know them well enough to see this aspect of them.
They may be professionally well regarded, or others may think this individual is wonderful. You must realize this is a function of your ability to create connections with others and to see what is real. Don’t assume this is a wrongness of you (which is what the narc is hoping will happen).
When the truth is uncovered, it can seem very sudden and confusing. We can feel vulnerable trying to extricate ourselves – like trying to exit a minefield. Backpedaling, or implementing boundaries once we are entangled with them can seem futile.
There strategies work well. One is an immediate withdrawal, with as little explanation as possible. This takes a strength of character and self confidence, not to be suckered into responding to them and not to feel sorry for their ‘confusion’. They will likely have experienced this before from many people before you.
The second is to sit back and observe. The first option is often preferable, as once we’ve seen what is, we really don’t need to confirm it and funnily enough at that point there is often a flurry of damaging behavior, so if we stick around, it goes downhill fast.
NEVER enter into an argument with a narcissist and NEVER try to obtain an apology or rational explanation for their behavior. In my experience they are incapable of either of those things.
A real apology looks like this…
- I’m so sorry,
- I was wrong,
- How can I possibly put things right?
A narcissist apology looks like this:
If you do go down the route of pointing out to a narc how their behavior has affected you or someone else, be prepared for all hell to break lose.
You will be wrong and bad, you will be a ‘terrible’ person and on and on…This is why the first strategy is far more effective. Although, if you pick the messy route, you will soon discover (often sickeningly too late) that you were correct.
If you have had a recent narc experience, especially one that got ugly, here’s what you can do to move forwards:
💚 Cease all contact with that person immediately
💚 Maintain your other relationships with care and be aware where the narcissist may try to do you damage in mutual friendships. (If that is the case, those friendships weren’t worth having either).
Sometimes the Universe will give us a ‘clean out’ and this is very tough at the time, however it is necessary to get to a level where ALL our friendships are genuine and generative and loving. Think of it as ‘uplevelling’ your experience as we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with and be grateful that you worked it out already.
💚 Bolster your own well being emotionally and physically. Be around those who do understand and who get it and who value you.
💚 You aren’t wrong for this experience. You just needed some more instruction in how to avoid these characters. Remember they aren’t wrong either, although toxic for you, they are on their journey and that is what they chose this time around. It’s a tough reality, but not your place to question the wisdom of their soul decisions.
💚 Forgive yourself, be kind to you. Clear all soul contracts with this person. Be thankful for their contribution to your life and your learning. Bless them and release all energetic connections and entanglements with them. Try not to go into wrongness of you. Just know it was part of a bigger picture and you aren’t in control. You get to chose your reactions from here on out and you get to choose new friends who are more aligned with what you are asking for.
💚 Deliberately have fun and do things to bring you joy. Focus on your work and/or your goals and things that are fulfilling to you and your purpose.
💚 Take responsibility, you manifest everything into your experience and there is some part of you that is an energetic match for them. Again, this is NOT a wrongness of you, it is part of your learning IF you are willing to see it that way. Now, I’m not saying you are a narcissist, but maybe you have healing to do from some past narcissistic abuse, maybe you have more understanding to garner on that subject, before you can be truly free.
💚 Process, learn and thrive. Each day as these events drift into your mind or experience and you are aware of them, don’t dwell and stay stuck in all of it. Allow it to be what it was, trust that life has your back and focus mostly on where you want to head, whilst still getting the development.