I recently read a comment on a post on Facebook where someone mentioned how some people “waste their time” trying to understand why a narcissist behaves as they do. I’ve seen comments similar to this often, although said in different ways. “Who cares why they do what they do? They only cause pain & suffering!” “They’re evil, that’s all you need to know about narcissists.”
I have a different perspective on this topic as I’ve mentioned before & felt that maybe it was time to mention it again.
When you understand the motivations of the narcissistic person & what is behind them, it can help you to remember you aren’t the problem, you aren’t overreacting or crazy & the narcissist is the problem in the relationship. While that sounds like common sense, as most victims know, in the midst of narcissistic abuse, reminders like that are invaluable. Narcissists do their best to convince victims they are the problem, & sadly, are often successful in their efforts.
Another plus about understanding narcissists is when you do, you clearly can see that you have done nothing to deserve what this person has done to you. You understand that this person has been manipulating & abusing you, & that you were doing only normal things to do under such abnormal circumstances. You did what anyone would do if treated as you were treated.
You also may begin to feel some pity for the narcissist because you understand just how badly damaged this person is. This too can be a good thing, because it will make you want to pray for them. I must warn you though, it can be easy to get out of balance in this area. I did this with my late mother in-law. I noticed once that after my father in-law had snapped at her, she was especially mean with me during the rest of my husband’s & my visit. I thought maybe this was simply how she coped since she had no healthy coping skills. As a result, I let her mistreat me for a while without complaint or setting any boundaries. It didn’t take me too long to realize that this wasn’t helping her. She was still miserable, & she still was hurting me. Nothing good came of this. I allowed myself to feel too much pity for her, & as a result, she treated me even worse than usual. Learn from my mistake! Keep your emotions in balance. Feel pity for this person & let it motivate you to pray for this person. At the same time though, remember to keep your boundaries in place. Just because someone has been through some serious problems, that doesn’t mean they have the right to be abusive. There is no excuse to abuse!
I realize what I’ve said in this post doesn’t work for everyone. Some folks will read this & immediately know it won’t help them at all. I don’t want you to think there’s something wrong with you if you feel that way. I am one who has been helped a great deal by understanding the narcissists in my life, & I wanted to help others think about this as a possible useful tool for them.
If you do feel that understanding the narcissist in your life can help you, I have some tips.
Learn what you can about this person’s childhood. Childhood forms who we become as adults. Chances are, you’ll find some hints as to why this person is as they are today.
Learn everything you can about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I don’t believe there is one non-narcissist that can completely understand narcissists, but even so, learning what you can about it will be extremely helpful.
When you decide to learn about the person & the disorder, don’t get out of balance. This mission doesn’t need to become an obsession, since that would be very unhealthy for you. Take frequent breaks where you think of anything but the person or narcissism.
Most of all, pray. Ask God to help you learn, not to obsess & to teach you creative & effective ways to cope with this person. Ask Him to help you to pray for them, too. After all, you may be the only person willing to pray for them.