How to Take Control Away From a Narcissist (40+ Ways)

Having to deal with a narcissist can be difficult, especially if they have hurt you. However, there are ways to regain control and get your life back on track.

According to experts, the following are the most efficient ways to take control away from a narcissist.

Mary Joye, LMHC

mary-joye

Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Winter Haven Counseling

Regulate the negative emotions they impose on you

Before we begin, this will be a counterintuitive journey into the twisted thought processes of a narcissist and how to straighten them out without losing your mind or power.

Though it may sound repressive to control your emotions around a narcissist, it is really an authentic expression of self-respect and intolerance for their frantic machinations and tools of manipulation to control you.

Your best way to dominate a narcissist is to be in regulating the negative emotions they impose on you. Getting you to doubt yourself is their greatest weapon, so do not allow them to dominate you.

Trust your intuition and instincts, and do not attempt to get them to see the light because they like to keep themselves and you in the dark.

Related: Instinct vs Intuition. What Is the Difference?

Be your authentic self and show no fear, as the only power they have over you is what you allow, and this is a form of self-harm. It really is. Do not let them isolate you from yourself, your beliefs, values, or other people.

Stay connected to good and healthy relationships, and do not let them infiltrate any of them.

It is imperative for you to understand and fully grasp the depth of their fear of abandonment. It may not look like this from the surface, but they are very fearful of losing anyone in their entourage.

They love bomb and discard in cycles of being wonderful and horrible to create a trauma bond between you and them. This bond is physiologically intense and can cause a great deal of interpersonal angst and anxiety when dealing with a narcissist.

This intermittent reinforcement tactic creates a chemical addiction bond that is difficult to break, but it can be done.

Simply stated:

  • When they are pretending to be kind, you get feel-good chemicals of dopamine and oxytocin (the trust hormone).
  • When they are cruel, this is the real them, and you get stress hormones that produce fight/flight and frozen reactivity.

Knowledge is power, and understanding the trauma bond and knowing what to do when you cannot go no contact with a narcissist will assist you to your gain and maintaining autonomy with authenticity.

Though there are more than three ways, these are the simplest and most effective ways to keep you safe, and each one builds on the other:

Do not argue

This is easier said than done because a narcissist sets you up to get you upset. You do not have to fall into this trap. Above all things, do not attempt to apply logic where it does not reside. Do not fight against them.

They love it, and your anger makes them happy because their reality of what it takes to be happy is twisted.

Misery loves company, but it does not have to be you.

Do not argue or attempt to plead with a narcissist to understand your feelings in any heated argument. They will twist your emotions into a knot and take great delight in doing it.

Have you ever noticed they get calm and cool or even smirk when you have unleashed your fury? They love it when you are off the chain because they have locked you into their control.

Related: How to Deal with Controlling People?

What do you do?

  • Take no offense.
  • Give no defense.
  • Do not ask questions
  • Do make statements.

For example, if you ask a narcissist why they are so mean, the answer will be some version of “It’s your fault” or “You are too sensitive and crazy.” This is gaslighting and a lose-lose conversation.

Related: How to Respond to Gaslighting (According to 10+ Experts)

It is better to calmly state, “You are being cruel, and I will not tolerate this behavior.” Then walk away.

They want you to self-doubt, so do not allow them to pull you back into deep conversations or screaming matches. Stay calm and in control of your desire to fight.

They love using the war of attrition to make you cave in, but the best battle you can fight is one where you do what they fear the most; abandon them.

Turning the other cheek does not mean letting them hurt you repeatedly. It means to show them the cheek of your rear end walking away, no matter how they wail or flail.

The flight serves you well in this case, and you will not dissociate or become frozen in their control, wondering how when they made you lose it, they got happy.

It was premeditated, so rehearse what you will do when they try to get you to fight. Do not fight against them. Fight for yourself and your peace. As soon as you lose it, they have control, so keep your peace.

The less said at a lower volume will make you the admiral of your emotions and theirs.

Go beyond the Gray Rock Method; protect yourself with well-chosen words

The gray rock method is viable but unsustainable. The narcissist is a master at silent treatment and being dismissive, discarding or diminishing you in conversation.

The gray rock means just to be still and silent. It sounds great in theory and works in a pinch, but it does not deliver a long-lasting emotional punch to the narcissist.

You cannot beat them at their own game of lacking empathy because they truly do not have the ability to feel much of it if any. They lack the capacity to love as you do.

I defy anyone standing in front of a narcissist to go gray rock that with any degree of success over the long haul.

The best way to handle this is not to correct them with silence but to protect yourself with well-chosen words. The subtle shift of intention is powerful.

You are not trying to punish the narcissist and hold them accountable, as they will never do this unless they are pretending. Holding yourself responsible for your reactions to them is protective of you and will make them confused and full of self-doubt.

The best way to go beyond gray rock is to superimpose an image of a lovely place in front of them while they’re talking to you. Put it on the invisible screen of a lovely scene between you and them.

You will be looking at their forehead right above their eyes. This is an actor’s trick when they must go do a close scene with someone.

They will think that you’re looking at them and listening, but you are somewhere else in a lovely place in your mind’s eye. All they see on your face is serenity which is what annoys them deeply, and they will not know your secret because you will not tell them.

They can feel you detach and become frantic; they cannot engage or enrage you.

Unlike gray rock, you can speak, but you must do it calmly, confidently, and never raise your voice. Yelling will set off your body’s fight mechanism, and you will lose control, again, of yourself, and this gives them the power.

If all else fails, when you speak your truth, tell them you are on to them, and you are no longer going to engage in conversation with them.

Again, keeping your emotions in check controls their emotions, and sometimes the backlash from them is not pretty but keep at it.

You will become powerful with practice, and over time, it will cause them to implode when they see they can no longer successfully explode on you or bully you. They will also see their love-bombing does not work.

Let them know with quiet statements you will not be fooled. They have no power over you, and you are in control when you step away from the emotional roller coaster of their cycles of intermittent reinforcement.

They will become aware of your stalwart strength and resolve, and this makes them very afraid and will disable their tools of manipulation.

You will retain your inner peace and power, which are impenetrable positive fortresses a narcissist cannot infiltrate or conquer.

Live and love well now and in the future

The ultimate way to deal with a narcissist is to live a beautiful life. There’s an old saying living well is the best revenge,” and it truly is.

If you really want to gain control over narcissists, quit fretting about how to please and appease them and work on your behalf to make your life beautiful and abundant.

Detach from them financially, mentally, physically, socially, and spiritually. Stay fully attached to your desires and dreams and go for them with your whole heart. This life strategy is the pinnacle of a counterintuitive way to control a narcissist without doing anything retaliatory or vengeful.

When you live and love well, they will have to move on and find someone else for narcissistic supply.

They enjoy harming people to make themselves feel better. They project their subconscious self-loathing onto you, but when they see it will not work and that you are working on making your life wonderful, they may attempt to retaliate, but you expect it.

They can never catch you off guard because you have learned to expect intermittent reinforcement and to reject its power over you.

This way, you will not waste any more energy trying to be in control of the narcissist; you will be using it to live and magnificent narcissist-free life.

Living your best life and surrounding yourself with loving people is the most elevated and elegant way to control a narcissist and remain pure of heart. Live well. Love well. Be well.

This will drive a narcissist crazy, and you will be indirectly and diplomatically in control of them by taking control of your life.

See a narcissist for what they are, which is a disordered individual with distorted thinking. You can have compassion for their disorder but keep your distance and maintain resistance to their need for control.

See yourself for what you are, which is a person capable of love and empathy, and seek out relationships with others like you. You will have control over the narcissist counteractively but peacefully.

Dr. Alyson Nerenberg, Psy.D., CSAT-S

Alyson Nerenberg

Licensed Psychologist and Therapist, Healing Relationships | Author, “No Perfect Love

Although we can not control a narcissist’s behavior, we must be able to spot them and protect ourselves from being hurt.

Narcissists exhibit characteristics that make them incredibly difficult to be in a relationship with:

  • including selfishness,
  • grandiose ideas of self-importance,
  • entitlement, and
  • a lack of empathy for others

Related: How Does Narcissism Affect Relationships?

These behaviors fall on a spectrum, and if someone exhibits extreme narcissism, it may be that the best decision you can make is to leave the relationship.

If someone’s narcissism is less extreme, there are ways that you can disarm the narcissist and remain in the relationship.

Staying in the relationship by disarming the narcissist

Educate yourself

Learn as much as you can about narcissism. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of a narcissist so that you can protect yourself. Realize that Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not about you but about the other person.

Although it may feel like a personal attack on you, this is the way that narcissist copes in all of their relationships with others.

Stay calm when communicating

A narcissist wants to fight, and if you don’t react and stay cool, you are taking away their power. Although this may be hard to do, it is essential to “not take the bait.”

Take deep breaths and go for a walk to remove yourself from the situation if possible.

Don’t take responsibility for the other person’s actions

Although the narcissist may want you to apologize and own the problem, that is not going to help the situation. The abuse will just continue, and you will lose your own sense of self-worth after insincerely apologizing.

Accept that you cannot change the narcissist’s behavior

This will reduce your expectations and give the narcissist less power.

Rebuild your own self-esteem

The narcissist’s belittling comments and blaming nature can erode your self-esteem. Talk to a therapist or reach out to friends and family who can help you build your self-esteem.

Begin an activity or hobby away from the narcissist in your life so you can begin to feel good about yourself in what you can create or do.

Use non-accusatory language (I-statements) when communicating with a narcissist

This tactic reduces defensiveness, aggressiveness, and rage. An example is “I felt hurt,” as opposed to “You did something really cruel.”

Listen to the person very carefully and attentively

A narcissist needs to be the center of attention, so knowing they’re heard is very important.

Show empathy for the person

Although a narcissist has very little capacity to show empathy for you, the act of demonstrating empathy for them will tend to calm them down. “It seems like you are pretty angry right now.”

Establish healthy boundaries with them

This sends a message that you won’t let them push you around. You need to decide what behaviors you will and won’t tolerate. A close friend or therapist can help with this process.

It can include not tolerating being called names or being spoken to in a cruel or condescending manner.

Express these boundaries in a direct and calm tone of voice

Avoid screaming back or escalating the fight.

Follow through with consequences if they violate a boundary

Narcissists are notorious for breaking boundaries, so it is important to follow through with your pre-established consequences. An example is warning the person that you are going to hang up the phone if they continue to scream at you and then actually doing it.

Do not give in by giving a second chance or a warning. Realize that if you choose to remain in a relationship with a narcissist enforcing your boundaries will be an ongoing part of your relationship.

Related: How to Deal With Someone Who Doesn’t Respect Boundaries

Be persistent and realize that you will have to work on this on a regular basis.

Get support

Join a narcissism support group or go to a therapist for help in your relationship with this incredibly difficult person.

Leave the relationship

Sometimes despite your best intentions to remain in the relationship, it is too emotionally taxing. Sometimes the level of narcissism is too extreme to remain in the relationship.

It is okay to leave a toxic relationship: whether it is with a boss, a family member, or a romantic relationship. You have power and choices.

If you decide you need to leave, here are some tips:

  • Avoid people, places, and things that will draw you back in
    • This may include avoiding mutual friends whom the narcissist may manipulate by communicating on their behalf.
  • Write down why you left
    • In order to not get sucked back in, it is important that you write down your truth.
  • Make physical copies of all your documents, including your social security card, debit cards, credit cards, and your driver’s license.
  • Set aside some money so that you can protect yourself. A narcissist may try to use finances as a way to control you.
  • Develop a support team/support system
    • Include family, friends, and a therapist.
  • Allow yourself time to grieve

James Miller

James Miller

Licensed Psychotherapist, James Miller Lifeology | Host & Executive Producer, “LIFEOLOGY®” Radio

Limit your time with the narcissist

Most individuals familiar with narcissists often can become overwhelmed or struggle to self-advocate as they can become overly frustrated with the narcissist.

Every narcissist will present differently. In the DSM-V, a narcissist is part of three clusters of personality disorders. They are categorized in the B Cluster. Within this cluster will find Borderline, Antisocial, and Histrionic personality disorders. This cluster is often labeled entitled or dramatic.

The best way for anyone to take power back from a narcissist is to set healthy boundaries and limits.

One of the significant attributes of a narcissist is to push another’s buttons or disprove what the other person says or any value that the other person may have. It’s continually being right or focusing on something that was not up to par, even if what the other person has said is true.

It’s well known they will minimize or present that they are doing the other person a favor for being in their presence.

One of the struggles that most narcissists will have is a narcissistic injury.

This injury is blatant proof that what they said or did was incorrect. If a person were to injure the narcissist in this way, it could backfire, as that narcissist will never forget what was done and will wait until they can eradicate the person who crossed them.

Every person who encounters a narcissist must first identify that the person is a narcissist. One way to do that is to recognize a feeling within themselves that they are second-guessing themselves. It’s a natural affectation that a narcissist will have.

Regardless of your role in this person’s life, you will feel you don’t measure up. You can be the most competent person but start to second guess yourself. You will attempt to overcompensate or to prove your value or worth.

Once a person recognizes that this person may be a narcissist, they must prepare themselves before seeing this person. Once they prepare themselves for any meeting or phone call, they have to limit their time with that person.

Initially, a boundary is set on time. “Kyle, I only have 10 minutes to speak with you today.” Once that ten minutes is up, I must disengage from the conversation.

The next thing one must do is monitor their emotional response. Anytime a person is triggered by a narcissist, they will experience a spike of emotion, which usually causes a person to react unproductively.

A first response is always the more emotional response, but it rarely ends well, especially with a narcissist. Once they are aware of the emotional spike, they have to use internal self-talk to set a boundary within themselves.

For example, James, you know this guy is trying to push your buttons; the more emotive you are, the more power he has over you. This self-talk keeps me in check from arguing with someone, especially when I know I will lose.

When a person attempts to argue or prove their point with anyone in a cluster B category, they will lose. The other party will win at all costs.

If you can prove they are wrong, the narcissist injury will kick in, and you will eventually lose.

When a person sets a boundary of time or a behavioral boundary, they must be implemented. If it is not implemented consistently, the narcissist will exploit it and mock the other person.

Overall, to take power away from a narcissist is to:

  • limit one’s time with them,
  • set strict boundaries of time and behavior modification,
  • and practice restraint.

When in doubt, appease the narcissist by agreeing with them and then reset your boundary and internal self-talk.

Shazmin Rafaqat

Shazmin Rafaqat

Psychologist, Healthwire

Narcissists often tend to make others feel like they are too humane and that it is not a good thing to be human or emotional to connect with others. But you should not fall to their prey and stoop down to their level.

If you are looking for ways to disarm them so that they are no longer taking control of situations, then we have got you covered.

Do not fall to their level

Narcissists can often emerge victorious in a number of arguments not because they are logical or present calculated grounds but because they can push some trigger buttons to keep you on your edge.

When they do so, they are not giving you enough room and space to breathe, and that is when an empath loses their control.

What ultimately follows is you becoming the bad guy in any situation. Thus make sure to control your nerves and do not provide them enough room so that they can do whatever they want to with your emotional intelligence or prowess.

Ensure not to feed their ego

If we can sum up the nature of a narcissist in one word, then we would say that they are egoistic.

A narcissist feeds on his ego and lives to satisfy and nothing else. They are pretty much like those wild animals that are often encaged. They often feel protected on the other side of the fence because the fence acts as a security border for them, and they feel secure in it.

Thus make sure not to feed their ego. Do not feed the bear if you don’t want the bear to bite you back.

This is mainly because they often have a strong sense of self, and whenever you praise them, they own it like it is your duty to do it over the passage of time, but it’s so not.

Break the cycle and do not give them enough energy to have a grip over your inner confidence.

You are not responsible for their emotions

The worst thing about narcissists is that they make you feel miserable for their own energy or when they are not feeling good. It’s like if they are feeling bad, it is somehow your mistake for making them feel in a certain manner when it is so not the case.

You need to stop feeling bad if they have done something wrong with you and you have pointed it out.

Because if you are doing that, they are enabling you to feel miserable because of their faults and mistakes. Let them own their mistakes and make them find the cause of their own happiness and sadness.

If they have anger management issues, they need to sort their act together on their own. It is not your duty to feed them what is right and what is wrong every single time.

Related: What is Anger Management?

Make them aware of the boundaries

One thing that you often fail to make narcissists aware of is their boundaries. People who have this specific personality type tend to cross their limits. This is because:

  • They do not have any idea about boundaries
  • They do not give two cents about other people’s personal space
  • They are not interested in other people’s lives and what is going on with them

That is why one piece of advice that is going to work wonders and make them realize that they are in the wrong is setting a strict line with them. Even if they see them, they will ignore it all and can even discuss your personal matters in public gatherings, to say the least.

Christy Piper

Christy Piper

Coach and Speaker | Author, “Girl, You Deserve More

Show control over yourself and the situation

The way control works with a narcissist is two-fold: part of it is tangible control, and the second part is using mind games.

Common tangible means they use to control you are: legal contracts, finances, your job, and your reputation. This typically means you are dependent on them for your livelihood or survival.

This is why typically, family members, partners, and subordinates are some of the few people who see the narcissist’s true personality come out.

The more control a narcissist feels they have over you, the more they can mistreat you. If you are just a casual contact, you may see few or none of their controlling traits.

If you feel they have control over you, here are a few concrete examples of how you can take your power back.

If they are your boss

If they are your boss, not all is lost. One option is to find a different job, even within your current organization. Another option is to befriend their boss or someone else higher up in the company.

Narcissists know the rules of human relationships/dynamics. This means that they know how important it is when a person favors another person. If someone high up in the organization likes you, it will be very difficult to throw you under the bus.

Since they want their own boss to like them, they agree with most of their boss’s opinions. So they’ll agree with their boss that they like you. This will stop or slow them bad-mouthing you and cause them to choose another target instead.

If they are your partner

If they are your partner, you will want to have your own money or job. The more you depend on them for money, housing, or anything else, the worse they can afford to treat you.

To help solve this, you can get a job if you don’t have one already. Also, make sure you keep your money separate and away from them. Don’t move in with them, marry, or have a kid with them.

Each step you take that entwines you with them, the harder it is for you to leave easily. They know this; and they won’t hesitate to take advantage of it.

This is why they treat strangers nice. But the closer and more entwined you become with them, the worse they treat you. Holding them a good distance away keeps you safer.

Besides actually changing your financial or workplace positions, there is another aspect.

Show indifference towards them

A narcissist uses mind games to control you. They test people to see who makes a good target. The more they can make you react, the more they know they can control you.

So the more indifference you can show them, the better. The more you can calmly stand up for yourself, the more you scare them.

Related: How to Make a Narcissist Fear You

The more control you show over yourself and the situation, the less they know they can control you.

A common example of a test is them trying to intimidate or upset you with their words. Even if it is just an empty threat, or they have no domain over you. If you show fear, nervousness, or submissiveness, this encourages them to bully you more.

If a narcissist is picking on you, a good response is to laugh in their face. Doing something bold like this will scare them away.

This involves some internal mental shifts the narcissist previously scared you. Why? Because they use mind games to make you feel like they control you. They would never dream of treating a self-confident person who realizes their own power like this.

If you’re wondering why other people like them or view them differently than you do, it’s because they don’t treat everyone the same. They only target a specific type of person who they think they can get away with mistreating.

If you need help dealing with a narcissist who is trying to control you, consider hiring a coach who specializes in handling narcissistic behavior. At a bare minimum, start reading books about how to learn and implement these strategies.

Sabrina Trobak, BEd, MACP,RCC, CCC-S

Sabrina Trobak

Therapist, Trobak Holistic Counselling

Set boundaries for yourself on how you will interact with them

The only person you can control is you. You can’t control a narcissist; you can only control yourself. Narcissists are generally very good at doing what they do and, for the most part, don’t really want to change.

Being a narcissist works for them, so why would they change?

The only way to manage a narcissist is to set boundaries for yourself on how you are going to react, respond, engage or not engage with them. Think about how you will choose to control yourself when interacting with a narcissist.

Put different boundaries in place

Think about how you can put different boundaries in place, boundaries for you, not for the narcissist. Narcissists are not going to respect your boundaries, so don’t bother putting them in place to try to control the narcissist. Put them in place for you.

Decide if you are going to answer emails or texts, and decide if you are going to walk away or engage in arguments.

How are you going to handle your interactions with a narcissist? The more you have a plan on how you are going to handle your interactions with a narcissist, the more empowered you will feel.

Related: How to Communicate With a Narcissist

Don’t engage

Narcissists are very good at what they do. If you try to engage with them, you will likely lose. The best way to manage a narcissist is not to engage or if you have to engage, to do it as minimally as possible.

If you are living with a narcissist, it can be more challenging not to engage, so the more you can keep your part to a minimal, the better.

Narcissists need to keep you second-guessing yourself. They will twist your words and their words in order to keep you questioning yourself. This is vital to the narcissist’s survival.

So long as you are questioning yourself, you won’t challenge the narcissist as much, and you are less likely to leave because you don’t believe in yourself that you can handle leaving.

Trying not to engage can result in you not questioning yourself as much. The less you question yourself, the more confident you will feel in yourself.

Often communicating through email can be effective. You can take your time to write and rewrite what you want to say. Take a good 12-24 hour break before sending an email and read it again and edit it before sending. Keep to the facts and keep your personal opinions out of the email.

Personal opinions often just fuel the narcissist, giving them more to use against you, so keeping it fact-based can be beneficial.

Narcissists are also a bit more careful about putting things in writing because then their words are documented. Narcissists like to manipulate and turn things around, so they prefer speaking in person as they can deny anything they want when speaking.

Writing an email doesn’t allow them this opportunity.

You control yourself. You cannot control a narcissist. A narcissist can only control you as much as you let them. Make a plan for yourself, and create your own boundaries for yourself.

Antoinette Bonafede, LMSW, DBT, REBT

Antoinette Bonafede

Senior Associate Therapist, Gateway to Solutions

If you feel someone in your life is a narcissist and you are negatively affected, there are some tips to learn to take control away from the narcissist and recognize those unhealthy patterns:

Understand that this is a condition

Narcissism is a personality disorder, and most people don’t choose to feel or act this way.

It is necessary to understand that part of this condition includes a lack of recognition of how the person affects others. It also means behavior may be challenging to change, so it is essential to recognize its effects on you and if you want to continue the relationship.

Honor your feelings

You don’t imagine your feelings; they are valid and authentic. When we feel invalidated, this takes a hit on our self-esteem. Stand by your truth and recognize that you are allowed to have needs.

Set and stick to your non-negotiable

Boundaries are a vital component of healthy relationships, yet we often give in when put under pressure; understand that consistency with boundaries is essential when dealing with a narcissist.

When boundaries are crossed, a contingency plan is also necessary.

Consider cutting contact

You do not need to tolerate unhealthy relationships.

If you feel threatened or are experiencing symptoms of Narcissistic Abuse syndrome, it is encouraged to remove yourself and stick to your exit plan.

Related: 10 Best Books on Recovering from Narcissistic Abuse

Be mindful of how they handle matters

A narcissist often knows how to put on the charm and manipulate you and the situation. Be mindful of how they handle matters when someone isn’t watching or when they don’t get their way.

Focus on your goals, boundaries, needs, and desires

A narcissist will want to be your top priority and dismiss your needs. Make sure you focus on your goals, boundaries, needs, and desires and often set time aside for self-care.

Stay firm and straightforward

A narcissist does not accept accountability well and will transfer the blame onto you. Stay firm, consistent, even-toned, and straightforward. There is no reason to argue and prove they are at fault because they cannot process it but do not accept responsibility.

Dr. Leslie Austin, Ph.D

Dr. Leslie Austin

Psychotherapist | Executive Mentor and Advisor

Be assertive but not aggressive

They will be controlling all the time, whether they appear to be or not. Period. They don’t experience it as controlling, just as staying safe or countering a perceived threat. They may be loving, kind, and charismatic, ignore you, or be angry and threatening towards you.

All of these are forms of controlling you, and all those behaviors are meant to make them feel powerful and on top of the relationship.

They believe their feelings at the moment but only as long as they feel powerful and in charge, and will change them in a heartbeat if they’re not getting the results they want: to win.

They do this with everyone, and it is a way of being with them; they need to feel they are controlling every moment in their lives so as not to feel the subconscious emotional chaos in which they secretly live.

Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you deal with a controlling unhealthy narcissist:

Don’ts:

  • Don’t take their controlling behavior personally (they do it with everyone); pull back from reacting angrily and immediately.
  • Don’t take in any negative or hurtful things they say about you
    • Don’t accept their characterizations of you, no matter how forcefully they state them. They don’t feel safe unless they are dominating you.
  • Don’t explain or justify yourself; you’re wasting your breath.

Do’s:

  • Do hold your ground and keep good boundaries for yourself.
    • Don’t expect them to like this, but if you are consistent over time, they will at least respect your boundaries more than not.
  • Do stay as calm and neutral as possible.
    • Just talk about your own boundaries and needs and not how you know they are trying to control you.
  • Do be assertive but not aggressive; expect a negative reaction but don’t negotiate.
    • Over time be realistic as to whether you can live with their behavior patterns and whether you’re managing them. If not, get out. Strategically, but get out (see the above on dealing with an angry unhealthy narcissist).

Keresse Thompson, LCSW

Keresse Thompson

Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Therapeutic Healing by Reese | Podcast, “Diary of An Empath” Host

Completely cut off any contact

A narcissist’s goal is to manipulate you in order to gain control. It can be quite debilitating and oftentimes feels like there is a lack of control for the victim.

Narcissists can be charming and come off very loving in the beginning. Almost overboard, we call this “love bombing.”

The difference here is that they are fishing for information in order to use that person again at a later time for their benefit. Narcissistic traits can 100% fall on a spectrum. But true Narcissists always show the same patterns of behaviors.

The best way to take control away from the narcissist is not to feed them a supply. Because this is what they seek. A great way to do that is to cut contact completely.

Go no contact, and this ensures that you feed them no supply that they are seeking.

Don’t show emotion and don’t react

In the event that you cannot go no contact, such as co-parenting with a narcissist. The best method is to do what we call the “gray rock method.”

In this method, you need to be as boring as a rock.

  • Don’t show emotions, don’t react. Be as boring as possible.
  • Do not react to their gaslighting or to their manipulation. Only speak of the facts and the children if needed.

There are apps you can download that you can communicate through if needed.

When you do not give them a supply, they will move on and find a new supply. Narcissists view relationships like a phone; when they need it, they pick it up: when they are done, they put it down. When it breaks, they get a new one.

Relationships are just a utility to serve their needs.

Dr. Cali Estes, MCAP, ICADC, MAC

Cali Estes

Psychologist | Cognitive Behavioral Therapist | Founder, The Addictions Coach

Anyone who studied the art of dark psychology knows how to disarm and take power back from a narcissist. If you don’t know how to do it, it can be overwhelming and scary.

But if you’ve studied the art and you know what to do and how to do it, it can be very effective.

Despite the fact that most people think that narcissistic behavior is unpredictable and uncontrollable, both are actually possible.

I specialize in working with the narcissistic population, and their behavior is very similar to a five-year-old in Target having a meltdown when they can’t get the toy, and their mother makes them put it back.

If you know this scenario, you know that the child is usually facedown on the floor in full-on screaming and temper tantrum mode.

To understand why a narcissist does what they do, we have to go back to their childhood and look at the parenting style. Most of the time, their parents placate them and give them everything they want.

Related: How to Raise Kids so They Do Not Become Narcissistic Adults

So if you see that five-year-old in Target having a meltdown and the mother trying to calm them down and give them what they want so as not to be embarrassed, this teaches the child; if I act out and be mad and threaten, I will get what I want.

This is the behavior that you see in later adulthood when we’re throwing around the term narcissistic behavior.

Do not let them know what you were doing

You have to put on a poker face and not give away your hand. The first thing you do is stroke their ego. You tell them how amazing they are, how beautiful they look, how great the work is that they’re doing.

A narcissist is vain. They value their appearance, what they wear, how they look, and what they own more than anything else.

If you stroke their ego and tell them that they look amazing, that their skin is glowing, their suit is fabulous and pressed very well, they will be putty in your hands.

When they do something for you, act like it’s important

The second thing you do is every time they do something for you, no matter what it is, you act like it’s the most important thing in the world anyone has ever done for you, and no one but them has ever done that. This gives them the admiration and praise that they need.

Now, you follow this up with something else you need.

So, for example, let’s say they took you out to dinner and paid for steak. Whether or not you like the steak is a moot point. You talk about how amazing the restaurant is, how good the food is, and what a wonderful choice they made in picking it.

You act like they actually went out and bought the cow, butchered the cow, created the steak, cooked it for you, and served it to you.

Continue that praise throughout your meal, and then you can ask them for something small to help you out.

Everything you ask for from them needs to be about how amazing they are, and they’re the only person that could do it that well, whether it’s walking to the mailbox and getting the mail or buying you a new Lexus.

If you use praise similar to training a dog, they will do anything you want.

Think about that, if the dog pees in the house and you beat the dog, the dog becomes fearful. But, if the dog pees in the house and you take it outside and praise it for going outside and give it a treat and tell you how amazing it is, it will then learn to go pee outside and not inside.

You’re basically training a narcissist like you would your pet. When done correctly, they will do exactly what you want.

Point out any event or person that would threaten them

Another thing you can do is point out any event or person that would threaten the narcissist. Everybody likes a villain, and everybody likes to blame somebody for something else. They also like to praise somebody when things are done correctly.

So if you need them to do something, for example, you want them to clean the garage, but they feel that’s above them. You then point out how the neighbor down the street cleaned the garage so well and how amazing it is.

Because the narcissist needs to be the best at everything, they will clean the garage better and mow the lawn without your neighbor even knowing you’ve created a competition in which the narcissist can win, simply by planting the idea in their head that they need to be better than their neighbor.

If you do this on a consistent basis and then reward them with lavish praise and how much better they are than the neighbor and how you cannot wait to tell the wife down the street how amazing your spouse is and how much better they are than that guy, you will start getting more and more things done for you, simply by using this tactic.

So the question is, are you manipulating the narcissist? Of course, you are.

Once you learn what makes them tick, you can learn how to manipulate them and run circles around them, and they won’t even know you’re doing it.

You will get your needs met and then some if you learn the tricks of a narcissist instead of reacting in a way they expect which is crying, upset, or giving demands and threats.

If you’re in an abusive relationship, you should always seek help to make sure you are physically and mentally safe.

But if you understand the dark side of a narcissist and how to control them, it can be a very interesting relationship.

Randi Levin

Randi Levin

Transitional Life Strategist

Don’t respond negatively

Narcissists crave the spotlight, and you give them center stage when you respond and react adversely to their bullying and toxic behaviors.

If you do not apply energy to the situation, it organically burns out because there is nothing poking at the fire. You grab back your control every time you simply ignore the confrontation and stay in your lane politely.

When you exhibit strong emotional intelligence, you diffuse the situation because narcissists thrive on drama.

Call them out on their thoughts and actions

It is often easy to upstage a confrontation by stating a few facts and literally “calling them out” on their thoughts and actions.

They may still believe that they are correct, but when you are not buying what they are selling, you rob a narcissist of their power.

Deploy curiosity

Narcissists love to feel important. Attempting to understand their perspective gives them their moment. Again, you do not have to agree with what they said.

It is a simple indulgence that may diffuse the edginess of the moment and quiet the conversation more efficiently. Asking them questions puts you in the driver’s seat in terms of leading the interchange and also in ending it.

Recognize that you own the moment

Narcissists thrive on being in charge. When you remain positive in the wake of their behaviors, you take back the moment. Narcissists play on your weaknesses and add salt to the wounds of your fears and triggers. Know the facts.

Often narcissists’ outbursts will be a reflection of their own insecurities. Recognize that, and you own the moment.

Related: Are Narcissists Insecure?

Steffo Shambo

Steffo Shambo

Relationship Coach and Founder, Tantric Academy

Stay away from any communication with a narcissist

Removing the power from a narcissist cannot happen by sitting and having a mature discussion. A genuine discussion doesn’t influence an individual like this, and it does not good to attempt ‘talking’ with a narcissist.

Why shouldn’t you talk to them? You can’t.

Narcissists tend to interrupt your every sentence. They also respond with a victim mentality. They continuously blame others for their mistakes and position themselves so that, in the end, everyone believes them.

The best decision you can make is to pull away from them. Stay away from any communication, whether it is a call, text, or in person.

The best revenge

Resist and give up any need to show a narcissist all of the displeasure that has been building up over time. The most ideal decision is to leave.

Reclaiming your power over your mental health, even for the sake of revenge, and refusing to give it to anyone is the best payback ever.

A narcissist craves attention in every possible way. If they are torturing you with their mean words and you’re diving into their arguments, that’s it. They win. As counterintuitive as it may seem to leave without making any comments, in this situation, doing so will lessen their control and power over you.

Then, you win.

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