Ever encountered a narcissist in a fit of rage? It is an undeniable truth that narcissists are more susceptible to rage than those without the disorder. Additionally, it’s important to understand the possibility that a narcissist might physically harm you.
The very idea that their perspective and their demands could be challenged or their control and superiority could be questioned can induce an outsized reaction nearly every time. It can be frightening to the person at the other end of that rage, so it’s important to understand what causes it and how to deal with it.
Having said that, however, don’t make the mistake of thinking that your husband’s narcissistic rage is your responsibility or your fault—it’s their disorder that creates the reaction, not your behavior. You may love your husband, even despite his narcissism, and understand that this rage is mostly the result of the poor self-esteem that creates the narcissistic behavior in the first place.
Continue reading to understand what triggers that frightening rage and what you can do about it.
What Triggers a Narcissistic Rage?
I have learned that there are some simple ways in which you can avoid triggers, without compromising your self-respect or integrity. And, when the inevitable happens—because narcissists harbor a lot of anger—there are some constructive ways in which you can respond to defuse the situation.
While the particular triggers to a narcissistic rage are often unique to an individual, there are some common patterns that can be identified. Most narcissists will respond poorly to certain kinds of emotional or psychological challenges that others have developed rational coping skills to confront.
After being involved with a narcissistic boyfriend, I learned to identify these particular triggers:
- If the narcissist doesn’t get his way, then he will respond with rage—even if their request is unreasonable or outright impossible.
- If you criticize a narcissist, then he will respond with anger, no matter if the critique is justified or constructive. Not even a pleasant tone will help.
- If the narcissist doesn’t feel he is the center of attention, he will become increasingly agitated until he works himself into a rage—even if other priorities (such as children) are more important.
- If the narcissist is challenged for his lack of boundaries or caught breaking the rules, then he will defend his actions with rageful counter-accusations.
- If you ask the narcissist to admit that he was wrong or to be accountable for his actions, then he will rage with denial.
- If you call the narcissist to task for his manipulation or even if you sympathetically suggest his behavior is caused by internal shame, then he will turn the argument against you in rage.
- If the narcissist starts to feel that he is not in control of the situation, either psychologically or physically, then that fear of loss of control quickly turns to rage.
As discussed previously, it isn’t your responsibility to always be on the lookout for what might trigger a narcissistic rage, though it is a good idea to know what they are. You can learn more from this post. Remember that, whatever the narcissist might say, especially in a moment of anger, their behavior is not your fault.
Reacting to Rage
If your husband is aware of his problem, there are ways to help him heal. Even if he is working at controlling his rage, it’s always a good idea to be prepared for how to handle that rage when it surfaces. Here are seven smart tips for how you can do just that.
1. Establish Your Boundaries
Not only must you establish clear boundaries, but you must firmly stick to them. Disengage from the situation as soon as the rage rears its ugly head and let the narcissist know that you will discuss the issue only when they have calmed down. Be consistent in this, because the narcissist will use any manipulative techniques in their arsenal to keep you engaged in their anger.
2. Breathe Deeply
It’s important that you maintain as much calm as you can. How you respond can either defuse the situation or fan the flames. If you react with anger, then it gives the narcissist justification to continue his raging. If you react with fear, then it gives the narcissist ample space in which to manipulate you to serve his interests. Breathe for four counts in and four counts out.
3. Control Your Anxiety
Part of the narcissist’s mechanism of control is to unsettle you emotionally so that he can maintain the upper hand. If he knows that he is making you feel uncomfortable, he feels that he is “winning,” that the rage is serving its purpose to keep him on top. Keeping your feelings and reactions under wraps during a rage will allow him to simply exhaust himself.
4. Provide Some Empathy
If you try to understand the narcissist’s grievance and find at least a couple of points you can agree with, often the narcissist will feel validated and his rage will dissipate. Be careful not to sound condescending—your agreements must be genuine or you risk enraging him more—and save your counterpoints for a later time when he is calm.
5. Leave the Area
Simply putting some physical distance between yourself and his rage can defuse the situation. If he has nobody at which to hurl his anger, then he loses enthusiasm for the argument. It’s also safer for you to remove yourself from the situation, especially if his rage continues to amplify. Remember that your own well-being is more important than his anger.
6. Call for a Pause
If you cannot leave the area or feel that it is safe to remain, then at least ask the narcissist for some time to think about what he’s trying to say. Not only does this allow everyone a moment to gather their thoughts and calm their emotions, but it also serves to let the narcissist know that you are taking their concerns seriously. They will often be cooperative if they are still at the center.
7. Stick to Your Plan
It’s important to keep to your boundaries and to follow through with these actions. The hallmark of the narcissist is that he will exploit any weakness you exhibit and manipulate any hesitation you reveal. The narcissist will always be more convinced by consistent actions than by mere words. Let your firm actions speak for your clear intentions.
Finally, always keep in mind that the narcissist’s rages are not about you at all. They are the result of the low self-esteem, insecurity, and shame that lie at the heart of narcissistic personality disorder. While you can help defuse the rage, you should never shoulder the blame.
After learning about what to do if your narcissistic husband is in a rage, you might be interested in a free copy of my “Narcissistic Rejection Guide.” You will learn how to say no even to your rageful husband and push back against his manipulation. Just click on this link and I’ll send it directly to your inbox for free!
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