If you’re dealing with a narcissist you probably know just how much they love to ruin holidays, birthdays, and any type of special occasion – really. Narcissists are constantly driven by this endless quest for narcissistic supply that they need in order to survive in the world given who they are. They can get narcissistic supply through positive reinforcement but they can also get narcissistic supply from bullying, controlling, and making other people’s lives miserable. A main way in which narcissists obtain the narcissistic supply that they crave is through attention. For narcissists, any attention is good attention – unless it involves the exposure of who and what they truly are. Narcissists hate special occasions and the holidays because these days typically take the spotlight and the attention that they are so used to having away from them and on to others.
During the holidays, the narcissist is going to act up. They may act worse than they normally do and cause even more drama. This sort of behavior should be expected when dealing with a narcissist during any sort of holiday or special occasion. You cannot control this, you can only control your reaction to it. Here’s what you should do so that you can at least attempt to have a peaceful holiday season.
The first thing, which is vital in preparation for the holiday season with a narcissist, is to create really strong and specific boundaries. These boundaries should be for yourself but also for the narcissist that you are having to interact with. Decide what you want the communication to look like. Decide what kind of behavior is appropriate. Decide what kinds of lines you want to draw. Decide what will happen if a boundary is crossed. Decide all of this for yourself ahead of time. Once you have decided these things, set specific, clear, and strong boundaries with the narcissist – you may even want to put the boundaries down on paper and have them sign it. Boundaries are so important when preparing for special occasions because it is the closest thing you can get to having ‘rules’ established. These boundaries are also incredibly great for protecting one’s emotions and for managing one’s expectations.
If you are dealing with a narcissist during the holidays or on any special occasion, you are going to need to manage your expectations. Expect that the narcissist is going to start drama and chaos- expect that the narcissist is going to disappoint you. This is the one expectation you should have. Do not expect them to be a delight and to finally come around and surprise you. They won’t. They especially won’t on a day when all of your attention is already diverted from them. Remember that they hate gift giving – do not expect a wonderful gift from them. Remember that they hate obligations – do not expect them to show up on time (or at all). The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your sanity during the holidays is to manage your expectations and expect little to nothing from the narcissist.
Think About Your Future!
While you’re keeping your strong boundaries in place and managing your expectations, it might really help you to take a mental note of what your new life might look like- what your life after the holiday season is over- will be like. What are the next steps? Start thinking about the steps that you need to take to get over the narcissist in your life and to get on with living a life that you have been missing out on for so long. Are you going to file for divorce? January is, what we call, divorce month! Are you going to try and dissolve the business partnership? What’s the next step going to look like for you? What is the end result going to look like for you? Keep that in your mind when the narcissist is wreaking havoc during the holidays.
The last thing you need to do, but not the least of importance, is making sure that you’re taking care of yourself. Do what you need to do to survive the holiday season without engaging with the madness that the narcissist will create. I always say that 80% of a negotiation is won before you walk into a room and 50% of a negotiation is won by just preparing your mind and feeling powerful – knowing exactly what it is that you want. Start getting to that 50%. The narcissist will test you during the holidays. Make sure you are taking care of yourself so that you can climb up to that 50% by the new year!