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10 Powerful Books That Can Teach You How To Deal With Narcissists

10 Powerful Books That Can Teach You How To Deal With Narcissists

Everyone knows a narcissist.  These individuals are self-centered, have little capacity for empathy, are exploitative and manipulative, and feel they deserve a great deal of admiration.  If you work with narcissists, were raised by one (or two!), have them in your family, or are in a relationship with one, there are some wonderful books that I often recommend to my therapy clients to learn how to deal with them.

1. Disarming the Narcissist by Wendy Behary.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DO97OQ2?tag=s7621-20

    This is a wonderful book that anyone involved with a narcissist needs to read.  There are proven techniques for dealing more effectively with narcissists, such as ignoring their show-offy grand gestures and instead, reinforcing them for everyday, kind behaviors.  Excellent read and practical advice, whether the narcissist you know is at home, at work, or anywhere else.

    2. Trapped in the Mirror by Elan Golomb.

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    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00851M798?tag=s7621-20

      This is an in-depth psychological book about the effects of growing up with a narcissist for a parent.  This can impact your self-esteem, identity, and ability to form relationships with others.  This book is wonderful for those who want to deeply explore the ramifications of growing up with a narcissist for a mother or father.

      3. Emotional Vampires by Alan Bernstein.

      https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000QCTO9U?tag=s7621-20

        Although this book is not only about narcissists, they are the main type of “Emotional Vampire” that sucks the energy and joy out of your life.  This book is particularly helpful if you want concrete strategies for identifying and interacting with narcissists in a way that will not leave you feeling exhausted, hopeless, and bad about yourself.

        4. Emotional Blackmail by Susan Forward.

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        https://www.amazon.com/dp/0060928972?tag=s7621-20;ie=UTF8&qid=1408649510&sr=1-1&keywords=emotional+blackmail

          Again, this is not only about narcissists, but they are a significant percentage of people who engage in emotional blackmail. If you have a relationship in which your needs are never being considered, you always feel like you don’t matter, and when you try and assert yourself, you get quickly shut down, you need to read this book.

          5. Will I Ever Be Good Enough?  Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers by Karyn McBride.

          https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001AO0GD6?tag=s7621-20

            This unique book focuses explicitly on daughters of narcissistic mothers, and discusses how being raised by a narcissistic mother can continue to impact women through adulthood.  It is difficult to think of yourself as worthy of love if your mother focused only on herself and her own needs.  Women often have difficulty viewing their own needs as equally important to others’ needs, and this is compounded if you were brought up by a narcissistic mother.  A must read for women with narcissistic moms.

            6. Children of the Self-Absorbed: A Grownup’s Guide to Getting Over Narcissistic Parents by Nina W. Brown.

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            children of the self-absorbed

              If I could only recommend one book to adult children of narcissists, this would be it.  It takes you through what it’s like as a child to be raised by a narcissist, and how this has a lasting and severe impact on your emotional and psychological wellbeing, as well as your ability to interact with others in healthy ways.  This book also helps you think about how to moderate the impact of your upbringing as you move forward as an adult.

              7. The Narcissistic Family: A Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment by Stephanie Pressman.

              narcissistic family

                Psychologists often wonder about clients who have the same emotional traumas as people who grew up in alcoholic homes, but whose parents were not alcoholics.  This groundbreaking book shows how being raised by a narcissist is emotionally equivalent to being raised by an alcoholic in many ways.  If you feel that you could never go against the party line in your home, and there was only one way that you were allowed to view things, then you could benefit from reading this excellent text.  It may be life changing.

                8. Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life by Susan Forward.

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                https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000SEH80I?tag=s7621-20

                  This is a classic book that can help adult children deal with parents who are making them feel stressed, guilty, and pushed to their emotional breaking point.  Narcissists are only one of the types of toxic parents described, but the advice is excellent and pragmatic.  If your parent is a narcissist, you will have to set some boundaries in order to live your life in a healthy and adaptive way, and this book helps you figure out exactly what to say and do to create these necessary boundaries.

                  9. Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisted by Sam Vaknin.

                  malignant self-love

                    This book has a cult following.  Sam Vaknin, a self proclaimed narcissist himself, takes us behind the scenes into the mind of a narcissist and gives us an inside glimpse at how a narcissist operates.  This book is fascinating and is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn in depth about the narcissist in their life, including the background of how narcissism develops.

                    10. Why Is It Always About You?  The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism by Sandy Hotchkiss.

                    why is it always about you?

                      This book is a great look at the seven “deadly sins” of narcissism, and shows how and why narcissists became how they are.  There is helpful advice for extricating yourself from a relationship with a narcissist, and also insight as to why you may have been involved with a narcissist in the first place, related to your own personal background.  Easy and quick read.

                      Featured photo credit: Narcissist via histsociety.blogspot.com

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                      Last Updated on March 30, 2020

                      What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

                      What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

                      Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

                      You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

                      This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

                      What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

                      According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

                      Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

                      There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

                      How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

                      When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

                      Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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                      1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

                      One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

                      The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

                      Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

                      2. Be Honest

                      A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

                      If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

                      On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

                      Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

                      3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

                      Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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                      If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

                      4. Succeed at Something

                      When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

                      Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

                      5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

                      Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

                      Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

                      If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

                      If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

                      Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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                      6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

                      Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

                      You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

                      On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

                      You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

                      7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

                      Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

                      Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

                      Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

                      When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

                      Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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                      In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

                      Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

                      It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

                      Final Thoughts

                      When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

                      The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

                      Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

                      Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

                      Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

                      More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

                      Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

                      Reference

                      [1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
                      [2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
                      [3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
                      [4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
                      [5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
                      [6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
                      [7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
                      [8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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