How to Deal with a Narcissist

If we had known how to deal with a narcissist before getting close to Sogyal Rinpoche, would we have avoided the worst of him? Did those who avoided being abused by him do these kinds of things naturally? I’d love to read your answers to these questions.

I certainly kept my distance, even when I was asked to be national director many years ago. I said, ‘No,’ because I could see how it was for those in that role. I didn’t see anything other than the verbal abuse and the relentless driving of his team, but it was enough for me to know that I didn’t want to be in that role – no matter how much it was supposed to hasten my journey to enlightenment. Knowing what I know now, that Sogyal Rinpoche physically, emotionally, sexually and financially abused his close students, I’m really glad I stayed out of any role that would have brought me into his orbit.

Many weren’t so lucky! I hope these points on how to deal with a narcissist will protect you in future – even if the person trying to manipulate you might not fit all the boxes for narcissistic personality disorder. It’s not only narcissists who try to manipulate us.

The notes I referred to in the video are below.

How to deal with a narcissist

Know your rights and set your boundaries

If you know your basic human rights and insist on having them respected, those are your boundaries. You have to know these before you can enforce them.

You have the right to:
– be treated with respect,
– to express your feelings, opinions and wants,
– to set your own priorities,
– to say “no” without feeling guilty,
– to get what you pay for,
– to have opinions different than others,
– to take care of and protect yourself from being threatened physically, mentally or emotionally,
– and to create your own happy and healthy life.

Keep your distance

Keep a healthy distance and avoid engaging with a manipulative person unless you absolutely have to. (If you can stay away, then you won’t need to practice these ways of how to deal with a narcissist!)

Avoid Personalization and Self-Blame

You are not the problem; you’re simply being manipulated to feel bad about yourself, so that you’re more likely to surrender your power and rights. You deserve to be treated with genuine respect, and if the narcissists expectations and demands of you are unreasonable, then you don’t have to follow the instruction – EVEN IF THEY ARE YOUR GURU. If the giving in the relationship is primarily one way, all you to them, then it does you no good – even though they’ll try to tell you that it does you good. Don’t forget that lying is natural to them. If you feel bad about yourself when in their company, (apart from that being a warning to you that you’re in a toxic relationship) it’s because they are making you feel bad about yourself. Don’t blame yourself. It’s not your fault. They are the one with the personality disorder.

Put the Focus on Them by Asking Probing Questions

When they demand something unreasonable, put the focus back on them by asking them such questions as, “Does this seem reasonable to you?” “Do I have a say in this?” “Are you really expecting me to [restate the inequitable request]?”

Someone with a truly pathological form of narcissistic personality disorder, however, will dismiss your questions and insist on getting their way. In which case, employ the following:

Take a Time Out

Say, “I’ll think about it.”

This allows you time to evaluate the pros and cons of a situation, and consider whether you want to negotiate a more equitable arrangement, or if you’re better off by saying “no.”

Know How To Say “No”

Remember that you have the right to say, ‘No,’ without feeling guilty. So when you don’t want to or can’t do what someone wants, say ‘No’ in a diplomatic and firm way. When stated clearly and without getting emotional, saying, “No” allows you to stand your ground while maintaining a workable relationship.

Set consequences

When a psychological manipulator insists on violating your boundaries, and won’t take “no” for an answer, point out the consequences of their behaviour and follow through on it. ‘If you do this, this is what will happen.’ But don’t make it a threat; they don’t work with narcissists (and they’re not a nice thing to throw at anyone).

threat is made in the hope that fear will influence the person, but a consequence is laid out as a natural by-product of choice. Consistently enforcing those consequences is a type of boundary-setting.

This is an important skill for getting a difficult person to stand down. It makes the manipulative individual stop for a moment, and compels her or him to shift from violation to respect.

Recognise bullying and stand up to it – safely

Someone who intimidates or harms another person is a bully. And bullying is a form of abuse. I recognised Sogyal as a bully in January 2016, but I didn’t label the public humiliation I saw as abuse – we were brainwashed not to see it that way, after all. If I had called it abuse, I would have realised that he was likely engaged in worse behaviour behind the scenes.

Bullies pick on those whom they perceive as weaker, and where there’s a power imbalance – like that between a guru and their student – there’s an opportunity for abuse. Those who are passive and compliant make the best targets – and Tibetan Buddhist students are trained to be that way – but if you follow the tips above, you’ll minimise the likelihood that you’ll be seen as weak. Many bullies are cowards on the inside, and if you stand up for your rights, they will often back down.

Once an abusive relationship is well-established, however, it becomes very hard to change how you relate to the abuser. In these cases, the only answer is to leave the relationship.

Don’t excuse the narcissist by calling his or her behaviour crazy wisdom.

Get the hell out of there!

Then what?

Then the important thing is not to end up in another abusive relationship. Being able to recognise what makes a narcissist, knowing how they manipulate people, and following the above tips on how to deal with a narcissist in all your relationships will help make sure you’ll not be a bully’s target again.

So here’s what I’m wondering: If we had known the above points before meeting Sogyal Rinpoche, would we have avoided the worst of him? Did those who avoided being abused by him do these kinds of things naturally?


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