If you think your narcissist friend or family member gets worse around the holidays, you’re right. Holidays are all about appreciating the loved ones in your life and giving to others. Those are the opposite of what the narcissist wants.
They want attention and adoration, and they don’t want to share it or give that to other people. That’s why they can be very difficult during the holiday season, and why it’s so important to discover some tips on how to cope with the narcissist in your life during the holidays.
The holidays often trigger the narcissist’s fears about not being good enough or some other deep-seated childhood trauma. In response, the narcissist will attempt to cover those fears by manipulating, competing with and provoking the people around them. This is not what you’re hoping for during the holiday season.
For healthy people, the holidays are all about spending time together and fostering emotional intimacy, something that the narcissist doesn’t understand. Given the constant fear they have of being exposed for the frightened, weak individual they know themselves to be, they typically overreact during this stressful time. Here are some suggestions for how you can cope when that happens.
How to Make it Through the Holidays with a Narcissist
The holidays are a time when most people want to celebrate and get closer to their loved ones. For the narcissist, however, the holidays are a minefield of emotional triggers. These five tips can help you get through this stressful time in a more healthy way.
1. Remember What’s Important
Stay focused on what’s really important — being the best you that you can be and getting closer with your loved ones. Stay focused on your core values rather than on simply surviving narcissistic abuse.
If your narcissistic loved one is trying to manipulate or demean you, ask yourself if this will help you learn anything or improve yourself. Consider, also, who you want to be in the situation at hand. By considering what is really important, you can learn from the experience and further your own growth.
2. Be Careful What You Share
You always have to remember that a narcissist will use against you any personal information you share with them. Consider that what you tell them is like posting it on social media in a group of your enemies. That’s the way a narcissist will use it.
The narcissist is all about trying to feel superior to other people around them, and they will use any sensitive topics you share with them to show others they are superior to you. That’s why you have to think twice about what you tell. Be certain it’s something that you don’t mind is put out there for everyone to see.
3. Be the Observer
Rather than allowing yourself to be emotionally involved with what is happening, allow yourself to simply be an observer. Watch how people greet one another and express their feelings and needs.
Notice what the norms and expectations are in each interaction, and what feels healthy versus unhealthy. Observing your family and friends as though you are a visiting anthropologist writing an ethnography can take the pressure off yourself to become emotionally involved with what’s going on.
You can observe and interpret, but you don’t have to be involved on an intimate level. When you have some time to yourself, write down your observations in a journal and process your feelings about what you witnessed.
4. Decide in Advance Where to Draw the Line
Decide what you are willing to tolerate and what you are not willing to tolerate in advance of any time that will be spent with the narcissist. Narcissists don’t leave you many options, but you do have a choice to remove yourself from the situation if it becomes too much to handle.
Ask yourself how much is too much to give up when interacting with your narcissistic loved one. Once you know that, you can decide where to set the boundary and when to speak up, let it pass, or simply leave.
Remember that you can always excuse yourself from a conversation that is making you uncomfortable at any time and for any reason. You don’t have to perform for anyone simply because it is a holiday. If you feel as though you need an excuse, you can always glance at your phone, and say, “Excuse me, I have to respond to this message.”
5. Take Care of Yourself
A narcissist can have you doubting yourself over and over again, but the truth is that you know yourself better than anyone else. If you feel like you are getting triggered, simply say something like, “Let’s agree to disagree,” and excuse yourself from the conversation.
If you do get triggered and respond in a way you’re not happy with, don’t berate yourself about it. Instead, consider how you would have responded if you hadn’t been triggered or how you would like to respond the next time the situation arises.
It’s also important to pay attention to your other self-care habits like exercising and good sleep rituals. Get enough time to yourself so that you can do something that brings down your stress level like reading or taking a nap. Remember, the holidays are for celebrating; they shouldn’t be like chores to be endured.
Because of their desire for attention and adoration as well as their sense of entitlement, a narcissist in the family can really ruin the holiday fun. Their arrogance and need to feel superior can end up making you feel like a veritable grinch.
You don’t have to fall for their traps. By remembering what’s really important, taking time for self-care and setting some strong boundaries, you can enjoy your holidays despite the attempts at narcissistic abuse.
You deserve to enjoy your loved ones and celebrate the holiday season. It’s a time for reflection and personal growth. Those are foreign concepts to the narcissist and the constant fear of humiliation can be frightening to them. You don’t have to let them ruin your fun. You can use your powers of observation to better understand them and keep them from casting a shadow over the holiday season.
If you’re wondering if someone in your family is a narcissist, you can learn more about it in the article, “7 Characteristics of a Narcissistic Person.”
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