When dealing with a narcissist, especially a narcissistic mother, you need to know about narcissistic supply in order to avoid narcissistic rage. Chances are, you already know quite a bit about it, even if you never put the name to it before.
Narcissistic supply is anything that makes the narcissist feel good about themselves. Everyone needs a little narcissistic supply, but narcissists are desperate for it & will do about anything to get it, including hurting people. Complements are great, as is actively listening whenever the narcissist wants to talk & going along with whatever she wants. All of these things make the narcissist feel important & good about herself, which helps her to believe that she isn’t the terrible person she believes she is deep down.
If you openly deny the narcissist that supply, she may go into a narcissistic rage. Screaming, cursing, cruel words intended to hurt you aren’t above a narcissist during a narcissistic rage. My mother used to tell me terrible things about myself when I was a teen & refusing to tolerate her control anymore. She would lecture me (as I called it, but actually it was screaming at me) about what a horrible person I was on a daily basis, often a few times a day. Now that we’re both older, her rage has changed into very quietly & pleasantly said scathing criticisms, always in a public place so if I say anything or walk out, people will witness me treating my sweet, innocent, elderly mother badly.
While it may seem at first like it’s just best to give a narcissist her supply so you can avoid her rage, it’s really not. Providing consistent narcissistic supply is like a green light for the narcissist to continue treating you terribly. You need to minimize the amount of supply you provide as much as possible if you are to continue a relationship with a narcissist.
And, while many think ending the relationship is your only solution to this problem, often it isn’t possible for various reasons. I know- I’ve received countless emails from women who wish to end the relationship with their narcissistic mothers, but aren’t strong enough to do so yet, or they live with their mothers & can’t afford to move out, or they simply don’t want to end that relationship with their mother. It is for people like them that I am writing this article.
Thanks to the narcissists in my life, I learned the value of becoming boring to narcissists. What I mean is I learned to deny narcissists their supply in a subtle manner & refuse to give them the satisfaction of seeing me upset. There are several ways to go about doing this..
- When the narcissist wants to spend time with you, don’t be available every time. Don’t always answer the phone. Ignore it & only answer when you feel able to deal with her.
- Narcissists love to hint. Ignore the hints. It will discourage the hinting. If she hints for anything, play dumb. Pretend you didn’t notice. It will force her to outright ask for what she wants if she wants a favor (like an adult would do..) or stop hinting. Giving into hints gives her control, which gives her supply. Don’t give that to her!
- Act bored when she talks. You probably are anyway- let it show. Look at the clock. Yawn. Look around the room.
- Change the subject to talk about something other than the narcissist. The weather is a good topic. Bonus- this can be fun if you enjoy rainy days & she prefers sunny or something like that. It’ll annoy her that you feel differently & it can be funny watching her try to convince you how wrong you are because you prefer rain to sun or whatever the case is. I have done this with my mother & found it funny how irritated she gets with me I prefer cool, rainy days. She tries hard to convince me something is wrong with me for not preferring sunny, warm days.
- Provide as little information about yourself as possible. It gives her less ammunition to use against you later. This one used to infuriate my mother in-law to no end, but she couldn’t say anything & maintain her false image of a good person. Admittedly, I probably enjoyed it too much, but I found it hilarious the lengths she would go to trying to pry information out of me..
- Remember, if your narcissistic mother tries to ask you questions, she isn’t asking you because she cares about you. She is only asking in order to get information on you that she can use to hurt you with later. Hurting you provides her that narcissistic supply.
- Always maintain a peaceful, calm, maybe even a bit cold demeanor when in the presence of a narcissist, no matter what. Narcissists can’t handle that! They want you upset- it feeds them, somehow making them feel better about themselves. Failing to show that you’re angry or hurt will be denying her narcissistic supply, & she will have to look for it elsewhere. Once you leave her presence however, vent! Get the hurt, anger, etc. out of you for your own physical & mental health.
- As you do these things more & more, your narcissistic mother will become frustrated & angry. Chances are good you’ll get the silent treatment as a result. Enjoy the reprieve! Do NOT call her to find out why she’s angry with you! Never! She will use that opportunity to blast you about whatever horrible thing it is she thinks that you have done. Instead, let her contact you when she is done pouting.
- If your situation gets bad enough for her to want to end the relationship with you, continue to maintain the calm demeanor where she is concerned. If she sends her flying monkeys to “talk sense into you” about how badly you treat her, refuse to engage in the conversation. Ignore her emails, texts or calls. Narcissists hate apathy- love them or hate them, fine, but act as if you don’t care, & they can’t handle it. Eventually, she’ll get bored & leave you alone.
At first, applying these techniques may be kind of hard to do, but you will find the more you do them, the easier they get. They also will make your life easier since your narcissistic mother will want less contact with you. My mother used to call me almost daily & stay on the phone for a long time each time, often around 45 minutes or more. Now? We speak every few weeks & rarely for more than 15 minutes.