If you’ve got a narcissist in your life, you’ve likely wondered whether you should confront them with the truth. It’s a tricky situation because the narcissist will have a strong reaction. Read on to discover how they will react and how to best confront them if you decide you must take this step.
Reasons for Confrontation
Before you confront someone with a personality disorder like narcissism, you need to be certain of your reasons for doing so. What are you hoping to accomplish? Are you trying to help them or yourself or both?
If you’re hoping that when confronted they will suddenly realize the error of their ways and seek healing, you’ll likely be disappointed. Likewise, if you’re hoping they will be remorseful for the pain they’ve caused you or other loved ones, you’re in for more disappointment.
The problem with hoping for these outcomes is that the narcissist’s sense of self is no more developed than that of a young child, and they simply can’t cope with the truth that they are flawed. Other types of abusers, like alcoholics, might see the light and decide to change, but the narcissist doesn’t have the ability to be introspective. They simply refuse to look inside.
That’s why it’s important for you to consider carefully what you want to achieve by confronting them. You won’t achieve equality, acceptance or significance in the eyes of the narcissist. If you don’t have the choice of going no contact, then you might be able to set and maintain strong boundaries to help protect yourself from their attacks.
How Will They React?
If you’ve decided that you must confront the narcissist in your life, then it’s helpful to know how they might respond to the truth. Generally speaking, they will do one of two things: enter a narcissistic rage or deny the truth.
The reaction can involve everything from becoming enraged to denying everything to blaming you and claiming themselves as the victim. They might throw all of this at you in one enraged fit or they might subject you to the silent treatment.
You should also be prepared for them to project what you claim is true about them onto you. If you call them selfish, they will claim you are; if you confront their infidelity, they will claim you cheated on them because you brought the subject up.
Let’s first take a look at narcissistic rage since this is often the initial response to any confrontation. They feel that if they just simply explode, it will both distract from the current discussion and deter you from ever bringing that or any subject up again.
Why the Rage?
You might very carefully craft the manner in which you’ll confront the narcissist. Regardless of how compassionately you confront them, you are likely to catch a glimpse of narcissistic rage. Because the narcissist has created this perfect image of themselves, they cannot accept any criticism of their actions.
They perceive the possibility of narcissistic injury, that is, as any threat to their grandiose perception of themselves. Any disagreement or criticism is received as humiliation. Since they have created an image of themselves as perfect, even the slightest challenge to that perception is a real threat.
Their response is like that of a grizzly bear mother defending her cubs, and you’re on the receiving end of that. They might emotionally detach, become aggressive, devalue you, attempt to blame you, or even verbally or physically abuse you.
There are two general types of narcissistic rage: explosive and passive aggression. Both can inflict significant damage to your self-esteem and perhaps to you physically as well.
Explosive Narcissistic Rage
This is just as the name implies — an explosion of anger designed to intimidate you. The individual attacks everyone around them, and may also damage objects or physically attack people. This is the enraged mother bear, but the thing is that the more you’re right about what you’ve confronted them with, the greater the rage. This furor is specifically designed to distract and deter.
While you might think this is better than the explosive narcissistic rage, it’s actually more insidious and can do more damage over the long-term to your sense of self-worth. This reaction is one in which the narcissist will do something like give you the silent treatment, but don’t be fooled. They’re plotting their revenge not thinking about what you’ve said.
They will cook up all kinds of ways to harass, bother, or sabotage you as part of that revenge. They aren’t being quiet because they’ve realized you’re right, they’re being quiet because they’re thinking about how they can undermine you without you even realizing they’re behind it. They will engage in passive-aggressive ways to get back at you until they feel you’ve paid for your sins.
You have to watch out because they can go behind your back and even do things like undermine your professional life. You’ll want to make sure you protect yourself even as you refuse to give into their manipulation. Even if the narcissist in your life is not a co-worker, document everything at work and be suspicious of any red flags that tell you your narcissist has been at work. Do the same at home so that you can be certain of your own version of reality.
How Should You Confront Them?
If you can’t leave them behind, you might have no other choice but to confront them. So, how should you do that to get any results? There are basically two general ways: threaten abandonment and mirror their behavior back at them.
Mirroring the narcissist’s actions is an effective confrontation technique. If they threaten you or yell at you, you threaten them and yell at them. If they act suspicious, you act suspicious. It’s a little like confronting a bully. When you use their tactics against them, they will always retreat. It’s like fighting fire with fire, and it can work wonders in this case.
The narcissist is actually very frightened of being abandoned. All their self-worth is achieved through external validation, and if you leave them, it’s as if they’re crumbling into nothing. That’s why this fear overshadows almost everything in their life.
You don’t have to directly threaten to abandon the narcissist; it can, however, be an implied threat. You will likely have to deliver it in a loud voice. When confronting the narcissist, you’ll need to use the very weapons they use against you right back at them.
That means that if they get enraged, you get enraged. That rage you are projecting will inflame their fear of abandonment, and that generally calms them down. That’s when you’ll see them trying to make amends so that you won’t leave.
One caveat here — you have to be ready and willing to follow through on this threat. If they won’t stop the behavior, pack a bag even if it’s just to go stay with a friend for a few days so they will realize you’re serious about leaving.
Narcissists are superficial individuals who derive validation through external sources. They can’t look inside themselves and they certainly can’t take responsibility for negative actions or consequences. If you can’t leave them, you’ll likely have to confront them to establish your boundaries and maintain your peace of mind.
You must have a strong sense of self-worth, and you must be robust in your approach. You’ll need to stand up to that bully and push back against his or her abusive tactics so that you can retain control over your own happiness.
After learning how to confront a narcissist with the truth, it’s also helpful to learn how to tell them no. Just click on the link below this post, and I’ll send a free copy of “5 Must-Know Techniques to Effectively Reject a Narcissist” to your inbox.
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