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Caring for a narcissistic individual can put you in a very difficult position, whether they are your spouse, an aging parent or an overgrown child. Being their caregiver is stressful, often it can be overwhelming and most likely you will also feel guilty for never being able to fulfill their needs. Caregiver stress is real. Narcissists are very controlling; they have an inflated ego and an exaggerated sense of entitlement and self importance.
However, sometimes in life although we do not choose to take on the role of care giving, we are put in a position where we have little choice and often we may find ourselves unprepared for what’s in store.
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Caregiver Survival Guide: -
1) Maintain Emotional Control
Remember you have power over your own feelings and emotions. You CHOOSE how you are going to respond. Negative behaviors or demoralizing words that are thrown at you by the narcissist you have no control over but you can still control your response.
2) Set Emotional Limits (Time and Energy)
Decide how much of those you are willing to expend on your narcissistic loved one at any one time. Be aware that conversations with them are mainly going to be one sided. These conversations can be very draining, you have to learn to set your limits for your mental and emotional survival is at stake here.
3) Avoid Confrontations
Narcissists are individuals that think they are always right. They have little regard for your thoughts and opinions. Often you may find inconsistencies in their accounts. Remaining calm is usually the key to responding to a narcissist. Do not respond to their tirades, instead ask questions that are non-confrontational such as “How did you conclude that?" or “I am not sure how you would like it done, would you mind showing me".
4) Try to Maintain Emotional Distance
This will be hard because usually the reason we are their caregivers in the first place is because we love them. Just try to remember they are very good at manipulating situations and people. So learn to protect your heart and feelings when dealing with your narcissistic loved one.
5) Demonstrate Empathy but develop an Exit Strategy
Sometimes they will be more cooperative if they feel that we are genuinely listening and trying to understand what they are attempting to communicate. However, it would be best if you develop and exit strategy before you begin your conversation with them. Once you have the information you need, do excuse yourself. Narcissists are often master time stealers.
6) Time for Yourself
Every caregiver needs to know how to set some time aside each day, for themselves, to do the things that they enjoy. During that time you can read, meditate, draw, listen to your favorite music, go for a walk, or catch a movie with a friend. Inform your narcissistic loved one that this time belongs to you and that you do not want to be disturbed.
Finally, in spite of all the caregiver strategies for narcissistic personality disorder that have been listed here, you have one more option, that is to consider allowing or employing another person to be the care giver. You can still oversee all of the care, and decide on the important matters. It may be the only way you can still keep your sanity and survive.
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- Narcissism and the Aging Adult - What Caregivers Can Do to Deal With This Difficult Task http://www.more.com/4879/7214-narcissism-and-the-aging-adult
- Caregiver Burnout http://www.caregiver-support.com/caregiver-survival-tips.html
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