Wendy Behary (@donsanddivas) has been training professionals and supervising psychotherapists for more than 20 years, and is the author of Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed.
What We Discuss with Wendy Behary:
- What’s the difference between someone who comes off as somewhat self-absorbed and a full-blown, clinical narcissist?
- Is clinical narcissism actually on the rise in the US? If so, what’s causing it?
- Does narcissism statistically affect men more than women, or is there just a difference in how they tend to express it?
- When a little bit of narcissism can be a big advantage.
- How to tell early on if you’re dealing with a bona fide narcissist, what you can do to remain your best self in their presence, and how you might possibly help them become their better selves.
- And much more…
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Narcissism is a word thrown around a lot these days — so much that it’s almost lost all meaning. However, I think we’ve all known, dated, or possibly even married someone on this spectrum, and we’ve all felt the sting that results.
On this episode, Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed author Wendy Behary delivers strategies and tools to identify when we’re dealing with a narcissist versus just your run-of-the mill selfish a-hole, how we can spot their tactics (such as gaslighting) in real-time, and how we can defend ourselves against their machinations. And, in a surprising twist, we’ll also learn that a little narcissism might even be good for us. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
THANKS, WENDY BEHARY!
If you enjoyed this session with Wendy Behary, let her know by clicking on the link below and sending her a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed by Wendy Behary
- Wendy Behary’s Website
- Wendy Behary at Facebook
- The Cognitive Therapy Center of New Jersey and The New Jersey Institute for Schema Therapy at Facebook
- Wendy Behary at Twitter
- Wendy Behary at LinkedIn
- Wendy Behary at Instagram
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder Symptoms and Causes, The Mayo Clinic
- Researchers Say We Have a Narcissism Epidemic. So What’s Causing It? Big Think
- How to Recognize a Malignant Narcissist, Verywell Mind
- How to Recognize Someone With Covert Narcissism, Verywell Mind
- What is Grandiose Narcissism? Why Does it Matter? Psychology Today
- The Communal Narcissist: A New Kind of Narcissist? Psychology Today
- Super Empaths Are Real, Says Study, Vice
- I’ve Counseled Hundreds of Victims of Gaslighting. Here’s How to Spot If You’re Being Gaslighted. Vox
- How to Deal with Conversational Narcissists | Feedback Friday, TJHS 11
Transcript for Wendy Behary | Disarming the Narcissist (Episode 246)
Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:03] Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. As always, I'm here with my producer Jason DeFillippo. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most brilliant and interesting people and turn their wisdom into practical advice that you can use to impact your own life and those around you.
[00:00:20] Narcissism is a word thrown around a lot these days. It's almost lost all meaning. However, I think we've all known, dated, or possibly even married someone on this spectrum, and we've all felt the sting that results. Today on the show, Wendy Behary, author of Disarming the Narcissist will deliver some strategies and tools to identify whether we're dealing with the narcissist versus your just run-in-the-mill selfish a-hole, how we can spot their tactics such as gaslighting in real time, and how we can defend ourselves against their machinations. And, of course, in a surprising twist, we'll also learn that a little narcissism might even be good for us.
[00:0:57] I meet all the guests for this show through my network and I'm teaching you how to grow and expand your network for personal and professional reasons in our free course, not put-your-credit-card-in free, just free-free, plain-old free, Six-Minute Networking and that is available for you at jordanharbinger.com/course. All right, here's Wendy Behary.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:01:19] So you're a narcissism expert. That sounds like something you get into through unfortunate circumstances.
Wendy Behary: [00:01:27] Yeah. Few people choose to be a narcism expert. A lot of my friends and colleagues, immediately thought, what are you a masochist and we didn't know this about you. It doesn't usually happen that you just pick it as a specialty often happens either because you've had personal experience on that path or because in my case you've run into them in the treatment room before you really understood what you were dealing with and you found yourself, this person who you always believed to be confident up for the challenge, curious, capable, now suddenly frozen in time or dropping back in time, I should say, and kind of relegated to an almost childlike position of giving in and surrendering and apologizing and allowing them to mow you down. That's what I did and I was so struck by my reaction the first time, the second time, the third time that I was in the treatment room with someone like this that I really began scratching my head saying, this is just incredibly interesting and perplexing because I feel like I would have felt when I was maybe six or seven years old back in the days of Catholic schools and nuns that could use corporal punishment. So, you give in, you're a good girl, you do the right thing, you keep the peace. And there I was feeling those same experiences and wondering why is it happening again with this type of person. This isn't what I typically encounter in my adult life or in my life as a therapist. And so, I began exploring, investigating, trying to understand it better, working with my then mentor on an approach that could effectively work with this population. At first, we had to figure out what it was, and I had heard about narcissistic personality disorder. I studied it in graduate school, but I had never at that point really worked with someone with these issues.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:22] Because when you started studying narcissism, it wasn't now where narcissism is a buzzword now. Everyone's going, “Oh, he's such a narcissist.” Because he took a picture of his salad and it's like, “Well, self-absorbed maybe.” What does it now iGen? The one after millennial, the people younger than like 30 right now. We look at them, they're self-absorbed. I don't necessarily agree with that, but either way we're throwing the term narcissist around kind of like somebody I don't like. I'm going to malign them. There are narcissists. Okay, I'm done. It's being misused. It's like saying someone's an addict because they like videogames and that they like Netflix.
Wendy Behary: [00:04:00] Yes, exactly. Yeah. It went from being a term that was incredibly limited, you know, to the lexicon of therapists and people in the mental health industry to being a word that started to arrive on kitchen tables in conversations, given the political climate to a word that's just –I totally agree with you, Jordan— Just incredibly overused. Everyone's a narcissist now if they even share something about themselves.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:27] Yeah. It's any Instagram posts that includes you or something that people aren't necessarily interested in, it's narcissistic. Or if you've got a blog, even though you're not heavily promoting it and it's about your work life and you're anonymous, you're a narcissist. I mean, it's really very, very difficult and it's become really blurry. As my wife and I were studying this in preparation for the show. Jen, she goes, “Oh my gosh, we know so many people with these qualities.” And I was like, “Whoa, wait, wait, wait, wait. We know a lot of people with one or two of these, we don't know a bunch of people that are actually narcissist.” So, there's a difference, and I'd love for you to explain. There's a difference between somebody who might be a little arrogant or might be a little cocky or might be proud of themselves for some specific thing and somebody who's a clinical narcissist that's actually going to have a problem with this in their life.
Wendy Behary: [00:05:20] Yeah, absolutely. That's an important distinction. Any one of us could have traits, as you noticed when you were looking at this with your wife, any one of us could carry the traits that happen along the spectrum of narcissism. There are very mildly obnoxious, annoying narcissistic-like people who can be a little too self-absorbed, perhaps a little too overzealous, or embellishing stories in ways that just become boring and off-putting to the higher end of the spectrum –where you'll find a more clinical diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder-- That's where you're going to see in very exaggerated terms, life patterns that probably started early on, with a narrative that can help us understand this, and have evolved over time to an adult who is now super self-absorbed, really seemingly incapable of empathy for other people or an appreciation for the impact of their own behaviors on other people, seemingly incapable of remorse, can't be accountable or responsible, can't apologize, basically is demanding, feels entitled to have what they want when they want, doesn't seem to understand that the rules do apply to everyone including them, reciprocity, give and take, taking turns, tolerating frustration. These are the characteristics you're going to find in someone who has what we call more clinical narcissism or narcissistic personality disorder. They spend a lot of time living in the world of fantasy of their super special-ness, their grandiosity, their extraordinariness in the world, very little patience for being average or being ordinary like an ordinary human. There's a whole list of reasons as to why they become the way they do. We understand its part temperament. A lot of it has to do with environment, exposure, upbringing, nurture, the whole nature-nurture issue. But this is what we're talking about when we're thinking of narcissistic personality disorder and when you think of the more severe, the very severe end, it can also but not always include abuse in the form of physical violence, sexual assault, sexual acting out, emotional abuse. Some can be even aggressive, but not all. As you were saying, Jordan, and I think rightfully so, unfortunately, now what's happening is anyone who shows anger is being called a toxic narcissist.
have evolved to an adult who is super self-absorbed, seemingly incapable of empathy for other people or appreciating the impact of their behaviors on other people
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:05] Right.
Wendy Behary: [00:08:06] Not necessarily true. They may just be a person with anger issues.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:10] Well, right, like ask anyone who's divorced and their ex was a narcissist. And it's like, well, were they always in narcissist? Well, there were times when, and it's like, okay, there were times when this person was selfish and then as you guys were fighting over your kids, they turned out to be not so pleasant. Okay, I kind of understand that. And then there are some people that you hear about who are, let's say divorced and then they tell you about their ex and you go, “Oh my god, how did you live with that person at all?” They're probably an actual narcissist, so there's a huge difference. I'm against words like this being thrown around because it dilutes things. I don't just mean the word narcissist, but I mean, you know, you say something, you express an unpopular opinion and then it's like you're suddenly a Nazi, right? Or you’re immediately right-wing if you're like, well, you know, it might make sense to make sure people have visas or green cards that live here and work, work permits are important in Europe. “Oh, you're outright now.” It's like wait a minute. Or you're like, “Hey, you said this really rude thing.” “Oh, okay, snowflake.” Right? Like you're just immediately jumping to the most sort of extreme version of this and narcissist is one of those words that falls into that category. But I do wonder, is there some kind of narcissism epidemic in the US because people keep saying that that's happening as well, and I'm like, well, are people more self-absorbed because of social media and other things, or is clinical narcissism actually on the rise in your estimation?
Wendy Behary: [00:09:37] I think it probably is a little bit on the rise just because we're living in a time where for better and for worse, we have access to pretty immediate gratification. In those terms, we're losing some of our capacity to be patient, to deal with frustration, to be uncomfortable, which is a part of life. Some of this immediate access to whether it's just gaining this popularity or some infamous notoriety through social media or just technical capacities, which are wonderful. There's this void in our ability as humans to really fortify our frustration tolerance and to be uncomfortable at times. I also think there's just a rise, Jordan, in our awareness of narcissism and our over awareness, as you've pointed out, even therapists get to a point now where they'll just say, “Well, what do we expect? I mean, I couldn't treat that client. He's a narcissist.” Well, isn't that convenient? That nobody has to take responsibility for their own skillset because you can just blame the patient. It's true. They are incredibly difficult to work with in the treatment room and not many therapists really want to work with them or have really learned how to work with them effectively. Again, I'm not blaming people who are frustrated and overwhelmed when they have someone with narcissistic issues or narcissistic personality disorder in their clinical room, but it becomes an easy throwaway line. “You know, they're just a narcissist. What do you expect?”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:15] I believe I grabbed this from your book, although it just one of those orphan quotes that I did a bad job of crediting. In 1963 adolescents are asked if they considered themselves important, 12% said yes. 30 years later in 93 that percentage had risen to 80 but then people kind of say like, “Oh, well that's creating narcissists” because we have a means for self-promotion. We can seek social status, we can seek attention, and it follows from the culture that we live in. The more individualistic the culture, the more narcissistic people tend to be. There's a little distinction here that maybe doesn't exist, so tell me if I'm crazy, you can be narcissistic, but you don't have to be a narcissist. If I demand, everyone listened to me because it's my birthday and I'm telling a story, I'm being a little narcissistic. That doesn't mean that I go around my whole life is like this. It just means that I'm being kind of a shithead that day. Right? Like that's okay. It happens. People get in that mood.
Wendy Behary: [00:12:12] Absolutely, we call it a mode. You know, we all enter into different modes or States of mind, if you will, and we can be in our pouty state sometimes, or demanding state of mind sometimes. They're just modes. They're just little pieces of our personality that can show up based on whatever mood we're in or how we're feeling biologically speaking. Something that just might've happened. You can have a narcissistic mode or you can have moments where you're acting in a way that's entitled or perhaps a little too self-aggrandizing or too demanding that doesn't make you a narcissistic person. Again, it's the patterns over time that are really baked in that show up primarily in interpersonal settings with other people. Going back the statistics that you were looking at on confidence, one can be very confident, ambitious, achievement-oriented, but also have that balanced by being very effective in the world of connections of give and take, of caring about someone else's needs, of taking responsibility for both the joy and the sorrow that you might create with another human. When you have that balance between connection and performance, that doesn't make you a narcissist because you're proud and confident when it comes to your ambition or your professional life. But if you take away the connection side of the equation and it's all built on just achievement --in other words, my work is my worth and my value comes from my extraordinary performance, the applause from the audience that's the only thing that makes me lovable— Then you're not even absolutely there, but you're running the risk of potentially looking at narcissism.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:57] Now this seems to affect men a lot more than it does women, and this isn't just my observation, I actually looked this up because I thought, look, we only need to look at Instagram to see that there are plenty of both men and women that are narcissistic. We see this all over the place, but the statistics show that this affects men a lot more and the reason why was really fascinating. Can you speak to that a little bit?
Wendy Behary: [00:14:20] Yeah, that's a really important observation you're making Jordan, but it has a lot to do with what I was just speaking about. Even in 2019, I think what we still find is this push to sequester the emotions of little boys. This emphasis on competition, achievement, and performance and athleticism. Not to say that parents aren't encouraging their daughters as well to do all of these things, but sometimes it's more the exclusion of the emotional world, affection, attention, just unconditional love that boys will fall prey to that more than girls tend to. Although as you said, and I think it needs to be said, there are plenty of narcissistic women, as I always say, there's lots of divas that can give these men a run for their money, so there's crossover. But they show up differently and I think some of that difference that we see in the census, when we say 75% of narcissists tend to be men, I kind of disagree. I just think it's that women show up differently. They show up more like martyrs in their narcissism and their narcissistic profile. Then you're going to see in a man who's going to show up perhaps more arrogant, more buttoned up, more well put together, more blaming everyone else in the world. Narcissistic women tend to be the big sufferers, so they show up as victims, virtuous victims because their pain and suffering is greater and bigger and more important than anyone else's, but it's a bit different.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:52] It flies in under the radar a little bit. Guys are like, power suit, power tie, power steering, and that's what I'm about. Then the narcissistic woman is like I raised you all by myself and here you are, you don't even call, and it's like, I was there yesterday. You don't even care about me. and then she goes and tells all the neighbors about how you're a terrible son. This isn't me by the way. My mom is great. But like you hear about this and then they go, yeah, it turns out my mom is a narcissist. And you go, “Oh, that's weird,” because it doesn't fit this weird stereotype of narcissism in my head. Like if you said your mom was taking selfies and inviting everyone over every day to look at her collection of weird porcelain animals that she keeps in a glass case in our living room. And then I'd be like, yeah, that's weird and narcissistic. Not somebody who talks about how crappy their kids are. Like that's kind of this weird backdoor narcissism, right? Where it's like, Oh, woe is me. My life is so hard. and then you're like, wait a minute. You had a trust fund, you live in a house, you'd never worked a day in your life. You'd have three full time nannies like what are you talking about. You're fine. They're just like this professional victim in that can come from narcissism, but it takes people around them longer to figure it out because they're not so outright over the top, arrogant, cocky, proud, whatever sort of adjective you want to throw in there. Where's the guy? It really kind of just hits you in the face, right? You didn't see seconds into the interaction.
Wendy Behary: [00:17:11] Oh yeah, absolutely. Feel it in your gut. I used to say, you can diagnose this from your gut with female narcissists. It is more of that backdoor issue and part of it is that they look like they're vulnerable because they're quote unquote suffering. But then you listen a little more carefully and it's really more about you think you've had it bad. Let me tell you what bad is, and then they give you the litany of amazing, wonderful, incredible things they've done that no one appreciates that no one's giving them attention for, and you know, there may be more than a kernel of truth to what they're experiencing. It's the way they experience it. They express it, they present it, and they carry it in their mind. That can make them also incredibly off pudding making. Their relationships suffer and you know, lo and behold, they ended up becoming lonely souls too.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:03] Yeah. I guess what I'm trying to say is that these professional victims are actually a little bit more skilled them. It's like, here's a little bit more nuanced and more fascinating somehow. I don't know if you feel that way as a therapist, but the cocky, arrogant guy who's like, look at me, look at me, eh, it gets a little played out. It's a little bit more interesting to investigate somebody who kind of goes, hi, if I just brag a lot, it's going to get really obvious. But if I start talking about how much my life sucks and get a bunch of sympathy, I still get a bunch of attention. It's a little bit more positive and maybe it's a little more sustainable because people then feel guilty if they don't. Whereas without regular narcissist, people can't wait to get away from them most of the time.
Wendy Behary: [00:18:41] That's right. and it's challenging on both fronts because once you touch that tender nerve of the martyr or the professional victim and challenge them on what might be their contributions to the conflict in their lives, that's when you're going to get the daggers. It becomes very difficult. In the same way that when I'm confronting a male narcissist in the treatment room about their arrogance, about the way they're speaking to me, about what they're demanding or they're critical illness, it's the same. They'll get highly defensive and counter attack, so you're going to get the same thing ultimately. it's just through a different route.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:19:18] There are different types of narcissism, and I would love to go over these because they have the one commonality, which is, as you call it, self-enhancement, and I'd love to go through these because I think a lot of times we go, oh, well if that person's a narcissist, then this other person who's different in these fundamental ways, I guess that's something else, or maybe I'm wrong, but it just turns out there's a lot of flavors of this type of thing. I would love to go over the different types and kind of the key differences. A long time ago, I interviewed somebody who I think self-diagnosed themselves as a malignant narcissist, and he was just a terrible person and very intelligent, which made it a little scary, but he was a horrible, horrible kind of guy. I remember him just freely talking about how he abuses his wife and it made me think he's maybe a little bit more psychopath than narcissist, or maybe there's both, but this is such a nuance term. I would love to get into the different types. Seems like there's four different types.
Wendy Behary: [00:20:12] Yeah, there's several different types of, you're right. The malignant narcissist has often referred to what you just stated, someone who may be tipping the edge of psychopathy or sociopathy, where they're almost a little too much relishing in the pleasure of power and bringing pain to someone else as a form of their power and their special-ness. Different from what I think of as classic narcissism, where they'll hurt you, you know, they'll hurt you. They can be very insulting and demeaning and controlling, threatening. But the motivational driver isn't hurt. They don't want to hurt. What they want to do is protect themselves, defend their egos, and they'll do whatever it takes to make that happen, including hurting you in some way, or just being incredibly insensitive in the way they behave, feeling entitled to act out without any remorse. There's one distinct difference there and some people will argue with these definitions because they're not founded in like a clinical diagnostic handbook. But many of us who've worked with narcissist for as many years as I have and others have would agree that when we say malignant, we're really talking about someone who is just in that most severe category. and again, you can picture them scheming in ways that bring pleasure just from the pain that it's creating for another person. That's more in the psychopathic realm, and again other narcissists because people listening to this will say, yeah, but they hurt you. They can be so self-absorbed, so careless, so thoughtless, so impulsive, so interrupted in their speech that they don't care what they say to you. Yeah, that's true. They are completely unaware and I'm not letting them off the hook by saying they're unaware. I'm saying what they're doing. The driver behind that is I am going to do whatever it takes to make myself look good, to protect myself against this bad guy idea that anybody might have about me against guilt, against shame because they carry so much shame deeply embedded in the core of their being. So, I'll do whatever it takes, I'll show you basically. They can bully and they can attack, but it's more in the spirit of self-protection than it is with the thrill of getting away with hurting you or watching you suffer. That is a very different distinction.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:35] Yeah, so there are narcissist and they really liked the pain. They're causing other people. Whereas some of these other narcissists or narcissist types, they might actually feel guilty. They can't help themselves, but they feel bad about it in the moment or later. But a malignant narcissist is kind of like, yeah, I'm a terrible person and I got a little bit of extra kick on the backend because I like the fact that you hate your life when you're around me.
Wendy Behary: [00:22:59] Yeah, exactly. Really hard to swallow that. But you're right. That's exactly how it works. The other type, they may feel some shame and some guilt underneath, but they're not likely to express that they defended it, they justify it, they deny it. They'll say, I didn't say that. You're so sensitive. You know, I wasn't even angry. I don’t know what you're talking about. I wasn't loud. I never used those words.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:21] So they're like gaslighting you, right? They're saying, you're the crazy one that ever even happened. It's like, yeah, you're literally on our nest cam saying this, you know, Oh, well, Oh, that didn't mean it like that. Or then they just revert to, well, you just took it the wrong way. Right. When I look at this, I'm talking in a normal volume. Even though I threw up a slate and it smashed against the wall, like that's all in your head. You're just being weird.
Wendy Behary: [00:23:42] or they'll start justifying it and saying what you expect from me. I have dealt with so much of your stuff for so long, I've just been putting up with so much. I'm entitled to an out lash every now and then. I'm entitled to be enraged. Most people would agree with me, so then they just justify it. They become super self-righteous, which is another trait that you're going to see in narcissism.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:24:07] You're listening to the Jordan harbinger show with our guest, Wendy Behary. We'll be right back.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:12] This episode is sponsored in part by Skillshare. Skillshare is an online learning community with thousands of amazing classes covering dozens of creative and entrepreneurial skills, so we've been using this for a while here in the office. Jen has taken every kind of course from Adobe, Audition software to bookshelf organizing. I mean, they have pretty much every dang thing you can think of, so if you want to get outside of your comfort zone or just explore something new, Skillshare has classes for you. They have business stuff, hobbies, stuff, arts and crafts stuff. I'm sure I'm missing several categories. Jason, have you been checking this out at all?
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[00:27:04] Thanks for listening and supporting the show and to learn more and get links to all the great discounts you just heard from our amazing sponsors, visit jordanharbinger.com/deals. Don't forget we have a worksheet for today's episode so you can make sure you solidify your understanding of the key takeaways from Wendy Behary. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. If you'd like some tips on how to subscribe to the show, just go to jordanharbinger.com/subscribe. Subscribing to the show is absolutely free. It just means you get all the latest episodes downloaded automatically to your podcast player so you don't miss a single thing. And now back to our show with Wendy Behary.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:43] Okay, so the malignant narcissist covered that and the covert narcissist is kind of what we'd talked about before, chronically victimized the world has failed to recognize everything I've done for it. How dare they. And then of course I think what we're normally talking about are these sorts of grandiose narcissists or maybe not normally, but these are the people that make the news. Where it's like what do you mean you think you are going to change the world? You created a piece of art in your garage. What are you talking about? You'd started taking photography classes at the learning annex three months ago. Janice, you're not getting in the Getty museum. We are not using your photos in the exhibit.
Wendy Behary: [00:28:21] It's funny. Have you been in my treatment room?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:24] I did read the book.
Wendy Behary: [00:28:27] You'll find in that category if we could break it down into two types or maybe two different paths to narcissism. This is important too because the big question that always comes up is, you know, had they become this way, how does this happen? Say if you're growing up in a home where again, there is very little unconditional love and love or praise or whatever you want to call it, acceptance is based on your performance, the burdens at that place is on a child to have to achieve unrealistic outcomes. They developed these unrelenting standards. They learned that the world works by being the best of the best of the best, even if they haven't fully earned it, but they have to have it because it's the only way. It's like their lifeblood. It's like their water. It's what allows them to feel like they matter. This is what they've been taught. Now, many of them do happen to be incredibly smart and clever and they can bank on that intelligence and the ambition and achievement strides to take them to places where they end up being the chief surgeon or the CEO of the company. It doesn't mean necessarily that they have intimate relationships because most don't. Most don't have intimate good friendships, close connections with other people.
[00:29:44] Then there's the other type that comes simply because they've been over unconditionally loved, meaning anything goes. You get a trophy for smiling today, you're perfect. You're so perfect, you don't have to do anything. The parent who's always cleaning up their messes, making excuses for them, running to the rescue. The child's not learning how to live in a world where you take steps, you make mistakes, you give and take., you can't always have exactly what you want when you want it. Some of that comes out of these more VIP status families, unfortunately, where the child is just –unless they're going to continue to live within that small stratosphere— They're going to have a hard time being in a real-world environment or real-world relationships with other people. So, you're going to get either coming by way of, we'll call it spoiled indulged child, where they're taught that they're entitled to whatever they want when they want it, or the ones that develop this kind of entitlement feeling like they can have what they want because they've done everything they were supposed to do by being highly achievement oriented, smart, clever, competitive, extraordinary. So, they develop this kind of compensation for not being lovable for who they are. Because at the end of the day, what you're mostly seeing or what we mostly see in treatment is that the narcissist carries this horrendous insecurity, sense of inadequacy, fear of this shame that I call the toxic shame, the shame that is unbearable to them of being exposed in an ordinary way because that's not okay. That's not acceptable.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:23] Yeah. It seems like isn't a little narcissism good for you cause doesn't it drive some of us to achieve what we achieve. You mentioned the surgeon, this is a guy or gal who's overcompensating for something and sure that in itself might be a little bit unhealthy, but if they didn't have that, they might not have gotten to where they are. Look, they might've been happier not getting to where they are. They could have just gotten a regular job and had some really nice functional family relationships and I'm sure that would be better for them. But kind of looking at this as macro for society as a whole, does anybody really want to be the head leader of something or generate a large footprint on the world if they aren't overcompensating for something? I mean pushing through the dip with a big business or being an artist of some kind or being the fricking president of a company or the country or whatever, chief surgeon; it's very rarely is it worth it because you're so driven and you're so internally, you have such a good moral compass. You want to help other people and you're the only man for the job, but the only one for the job. A lot of us do this because we're like, well crap, maybe I'll finally have people love me if I finally achieved this. I mean, narcissism might not be good for the individual, but it can kind of be good for the society. Would you agree?
Wendy Behary: [00:32:32] Oh yeah. I always say, give me the surgeon who has worked his butt off or her butt off, overcompensate by being the best of the best. I just want them to be the best technician when I go under anesthesia and I'm being operated on, but I don't want to go home with them. I don't want to live with them, you know? I don't want to be in relationship with them, but yeah, on the operating room table. Absolutely.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:55] Yeah. Nobody's about to go under and goes, wait, wait. How are your relationships with family and friends? Before you cut open my jaw line for you removed my adenoids. I just want to make sure that your dating life and the way you were raised was commensurate with what I expect in a surgeon. I don't care. I want somebody who goes, man, after this, I'm going to brag so hard to everybody about how well I did. Yes, please do. Do a bang-up job.
Wendy Behary: [00:33:19] Exactly. That's right. So again, I want that person and they do make a contribution in ways that can be very meaningful, but unfortunately not so much in their relationships with their families, with their partners, even with their coworkers and their subordinates who end up being at the mercy of their demands and their dismissiveness.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:41] What are some signs that we're dealing with dating, married to a narcissist? Can you give us some concrete examples because some of it's really obvious, like they only talk about themselves, but I think it goes a little bit beyond that and there might even be something that's counterintuitive that people don't normally look for, that you say, oh, if they had just been in my office before this or read my book before this, they would know that this is it.
Wendy Behary: [00:34:04] Well, the counterintuitive part is that they can be very charming and appear to be these amazing superheroes. “Oh, my Knight in shining armor.” You know, the original title for my book was going to be a nightmare in shining armor.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:18] Oh, very clever.
Wendy Behary: [00:34:19] I thought that was a little too dark. So yeah, they can show up looking like you know the hero always doing for you always trying to solve the problem until you cross them or you disagree with their solution or until you realize that, hmm, wait a minute. This wasn't necessarily about me. This is really about them being the superhero. So, it's not really about me because when I issue any kind of a complaint or a disappointment in their behavior, they disappear or they get angry and blame it on me. So in the early days of courtship, and even sometimes throughout a relationship, this part can be very endearing until you recognize that there are really gross limits to how much they're going to be willing to do, to sit in your shoes, to recognize what's happening in your skin, especially if they happen to be the perpetrator of any pain that you're experiencing. So that's one of those maybe counterintuitive signs. The more obvious ones, as you mentioned already, is they're just so grossly self-absorbed. They're not good listeners. They often have trouble making eye contact. They’re impulsive. They're interrupting when you're speaking. They're not really listening to what you're saying, they're waiting their turn to speak and to grandstand, or they're just shutting down and tuning you out because they're bored. When it's not about them. When they're not speaking about themselves, they're not getting the kind of adoration or adulation that they need. They go off and they self-stimulate. They find ways to suit themselves so big on self-soothing when they're not engaged in something that's giving them direct approval for their wonderfulness, they are just highly entitled. Entitlement really captures it, almost like the hallmark trait of narcissism. They feel incredibly entitled to say what, do what, act as if under any conditions. No matter what, they always have a justification for their sense of entitlement to do as they please.
And so that's a big red flag in a relationship. I was just going to add one more thing, which is the one thing you hear about all the time, and I have a little bit of an issue with this because it's become another catch phrase called the super empath. I believe empathy is such an amazingly important element for all human relationships. I don't think anyone should apologize for being empathic in a relationship even if it's with a narcissist because empathy is not sympathy. Narcissists are not totally incapable of empathy. They're just haven't really developed the capacity because they're so focused on self all the time, like a deer in the headlights. But through my work with them, I've discovered if they do the work, if they'll sit in the chair, if they'll stay for the long distance, they can develop that capacity to actually feel what others are feeling, but first they have to develop it for themselves. Empathy is not sympathy. So, it's not feeling sorry for the narcissist. It's understanding their makeup, really understanding how they're put together, why they do what they do, and the more you understand that, the less you're apt to be taking it personally, the less you're apt to be blaming yourself.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:37:34] Do narcissists have specific tactics that we might look out for? I mean we kind of mentioned before the gaslighting where they will say, “Oh it's you”, or “Oh I'll justify it”. But is there anything that you see and you routinely go, “Oh ding,” this person that you're talking about in my office here, you're dealing with a narcissist. “Oh, this is a classic sort of narcissist move.” Because a lot of people will be arguing, realize they're wrong, and then go, “I wonder if I can get away with this by turning it around.” It's just an immature way to argue, you know, the mature ways to go, “You know what? You're right. I'm sorry I snapped at you. That was really dumb. I'm stressed out. That doesn't justify it.” That's what normal people do. Sure, narcissists might not let it go, but there's got to be something where you go, “Oh, only narcissists really do this.” Do A, B, C. This is like very classic narcissist. Yeah.
Wendy Behary: [00:38:20] The things they do is what you just said. They have a really hard time taking responsibility if they've offended you. So, they'll make excuses or they'll turn it on you. They'll ask questions and they will kind of hardly listen to your answers. They ‘re really, again, looking for that room to shine and tout their wonderfulness, they're looking for approval. Let's say you're meeting a person who doesn't have any narcissistic traits or doesn't have a narcissistic personality disorder, and they're asking you for the first time about your family and you start talking about your child and you know, they look at you and say, “Oh, you look so happy when you're speaking about your daughter. Oh, I like the way you light up about that. Tell me more.” And you know, just they're engaged. The narcissist doesn't engage. They're looking for information, so that they can then either compete with what they've just heard by one upping you and telling you a story that's even more amazing and fantastic than the one you just told. Dropping a name to try to impress. They're trying to win your approval. They don't feel comfortable in their skin. This is something that we can learn how to detect early on. What you notice, you asked me this question earlier, the one thing you'll notice if you're in a relationship with a narcissist is you feel a little bit erased. You feel kind of invisible. You might be seen when there's a criticism that they're launching at you, but you just don't feel visible when it comes to their real interest in knowing you.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:39:52] It's kind of like the lights on, but nobody's home in terms of they're doing the right things and they're pushing the right buttons. But the response is kind of just mechanical, right? So, when I think of somebody who's charming, narcissist is charming and they're on a date, they go, “Tell me about yourself.” “Wow, that's so interesting.” But they're not doing it to connect with you, they're doing it because they know that's what you do when you want someone to like you so that they will do things for you later, for example.
Wendy Behary: [00:40:15] Precisely, yes, they know how to get what they want and so they learn courtship very well. Now, that's not to say that there's no genuine heartfelt feelings in anyone who's narcissistic. They do have moments, times when they can cheer up that a movie where they might, if there's a loss, they might be grieving. There are little moments and for people who've been in relationships with them, these are moments that you grab on and you savor and you hope, “Oh dear, maybe you know we could expand on this. Maybe this could evolve to something amazing. There really is a person underneath all of this masquerading non-sense that I'm putting up with.” But you’re right, in courtship, it's very much they know what to do. They know what to do because they want what they want. They've figured out a little bit of how the game goes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:06] Yeah, I can see this happening with sociopaths with people who are narcissistic. I think also it can happen with people who just are manually learning a social skill and I won't go down that road. That's a kind of a separate topic. But they're doing the right things in an interaction or in a relationship because they know that's what they're supposed to do, but it really ends up being about them. so even if they mean well, even if they do tear up, or they're having a moment of what looks like genuine connection, it still has a focus on how it makes them feel. They're really still focused on how this looks for them or how they're being made happy by this other person. It still seems like it really is all about them, which being human is kind of like that, I would imagine in some way. I mean we kind of have to recognize the narcissism operating within all of us in order to embrace our humanness. I would argue, and you're the expert, that we have to stay connected to our narcissism so that we can notice it when it crosses over into something more problematic. Like there's nothing wrong with feeling good about being in a relationship or being somebody who's proud of your accomplishments, but you just kind of have to go, what I'm doing right now, it's in the spectrum of normal. Nobody's being harmed by it. People aren't getting sick of it, and then once you start going, “Gee, I have talked for the entire 45-minute dinner and only about myself and my podcast or something.” There are times where my wife will go, she'll tell me in Chinese and a group of people, “You're talking a little bit too much about yourself.” And I'm like, “But they're asking me questions.” And she's like, “Doesn't matter. Take a fricking breath, have a bite of your banana bread pudding and shut your mouth.” You know, like she doesn't phrase it exactly like that, but since she's Asian, the culture has a little bit less tolerance or maybe a lot less tolerance for what is kind of normal here in North America, where somebody asks you about, “Wow, you've got in the New York times today.” “Yeah, let me tell you all about that.” She's like, “No, no, no. Just say thank you and let it go.” And I'm like, but I want to, you know, like there's a whole different sort of measuring stick, but staying connected to that has been very useful for not being an insufferable a-hole all the time.
Wendy Behary: [00:43:09] Good for you, good for her. That's great. Again, that's a chief characteristic that you'll see when you're sitting with someone who has either narcissistic traits or in a worse way, let's say a narcissistic personality disorder. The difference again is with traits it may show up from time to time can still be annoying. If it's a full-blown personality disorder, It's there all the time. There's just no room to breathe for people on the other side. I say this so often in my treatment room when my narcissistic clients are saying things like, “So I'm supposed to feel bad that I'm doing so well.” I say, no, of course not. You don't have to be sorry for doing well. You have every right to be proud of how well you've done, how hard you've worked, how lucky you've been even in your life. It's great, but it's not what makes you a lovable person. It's not what makes you someone that people want to hang out with, have a conversation with, have a dinner with. I mean your fans and followers. Yes. The people who are trying to get all the goodies from you. Yes, because you've got connections and you've got good ease that you can share, but real people who just want to be with you, sit with you, know you, have fun with you. Not so much.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:18] Yeah. Look, we get a lot of letters in our Feedback Friday inbox where somebody goes, I talked about my promotion at the Christmas dinner for five minutes. Am I a narcissist? Or like, you know, I'm dating somebody and clearly the person they're dating is just horrible manipulative and they're going, am I a pathological narcissist? In my theory on this, and I know Jason shares this, if you're emailing us to say, I feel really bad about this, am I a pathological narcissist? There's a good chance you're not. Because I think somebody who's really pathological is either going to deny that and try to turn it around and other people or what they do is so egregious that it's really, really apparent. And there's sort of like these nice 21-year-old kids wondering if they're narcissistic because they talked about themselves for 10 minutes at a dinner or like didn't give their significant other enough of approval when they got a promotion and then they got in a fight about that. That to me now that we're talking about, it almost seems like a narcissist is gaslighting them and making them think that they're the problem by saying you're narcissistic, you don't give me enough unbridled adoration.
Wendy Behary: [00:45:23] Oh yeah. Or the overly popularized term now has created this phenomenon, which is really scary and again, sad because you're 100% right that someone who's asking, ”Oh my God, am I being narcissistic? Hope I wasn't offensive.” I'll say right there. No, you're caring about the impact of your behavior on other people, how you're coming across, how it's affecting others who are in your company. No narcissists believe that everyone just is having a great time being in their presence. They don't even see the person at the social event who's completely glazed over and looking for help and scanning the room for somebody to come and rescue them from this horrible conversation that they're stuck in in the corner of the room so they don't notice. But someone who's really asking the question is probably someone who has really nothing to worry about in that regard.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:46:19] You're listening to the Jordan harbinger show with our guest, Wendy Behary. We'll be right back after this.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:25] This episode is sponsored in part by NetSuite. Obviously if you don't know your numbers in your business, you don't know your business. The problem most growing businesses have that keeps them from knowing their numbers is that the hodgepodge of business systems. I have like 17 dashboards, right? There's one for accounting, there's one for accounts receivable, there's one for outgoing, and I run a pretty simple business. You wasted a ton of time doing this. NetSuite by Oracle is business management software that handles every aspect of your business and an easy to use cloud platform. You get visibility, you get control, you save time, money, unneeded headaches. You don't have to manage sales, finance, and accounting in separate places. You get the all that, the HR, the orders, all that right from your desktop and your phone and they are the number one cloud business system. This thing is bad ass. We looked at it, I remember like 10 years ago, we looked at it and it was easily light years ahead of everything else, Jason.
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Jason DeFillippo: [00:50:38] Thank you for listening and supporting the show. Your support of our advertisers keeps us on the air. To learn more and get links to all the great discounts you just heard so you can check out those amazing sponsors, visit jordanharbinger.com/deals and don't forget that worksheet for today's episode. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. And if you're listening to us on the Overcast player, please click that little star next to the episode. We really appreciate it. Now for the conclusion of our episode with Wendy Behary,
Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:08] It seems obvious now in light of this conversation why people get attracted to narcissists cause a lot of people go, I can't believe you dealt with this person for so long. Well, yeah, when you pile everything together. But what we're not seeing is how this person is so good at making other people feel good because they're getting what they want from them as a result. But it also explains why narcissists are so prone to cheating on significant others, betrayal in general, because they kind of can't help but look out for themselves. The calculation of, “Gee, I shouldn't steal money from my company,” or maybe “I shouldn't cheat on my wife just because I can”. That's sort of a secondary consideration. It's not the first thing that pops up.
Wendy Behary: [00:51:48] Yeah. and some of it is also because they're so poor in the area of real intimacy, really connecting to another person's feelings and emotions and even sexually, t heir capacity to be truly intimate and confident in their sexual performances and other problem. Remember it's all about them. How are they coming off? How are they doing? How are they showing up? And it's a big burden to have to worry about meeting the needs of someone else even sexually. It's not a surprise that you're going to find a tremendous number of narcissists in that heaping pile of people who may have sexual addictions or are looking at pornography, going into chat rooms, hiring prostitutes, having affairs much of the time. That's not surprising because there again, it's all about them. It's the pleasure is for me. I can do it on my terms, my time, and I don't have to worry about pleasing anybody. I can just look at the laptop or I can just hang out in the chat room or I can hire the prostitute and pay her money. I don't have to worry about returning the favors to anyone and it's stimulating. They are big stimulation seekers, so it's highly stimulating. They feel entitled to do it and it's a rush without any reciprocating. So, this is not too surprising.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:53:02] How do we win with a narcissist? I mean is that even the right verb to use? I would imagine you wouldn't have a job if it was really easy for somebody to just cure them, change them, teach them a lesson through experience. This would be a five-minute podcast. You would have written a book about something else, right?
Wendy Behary: [00:53:20] Yeah. It's not easy. It's not easy and it doesn't happen often where you're going see transformation in a way that is enduring. We can see sometimes some quick fabricated transformations, but to really see someone make change, a narcissistic individual make change that's meaningful and long lasting, it takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of leverage, meaning that there has to be some consequence, something that they don't want to face, like losing a partner, losing a job, losing their relationship with their adult children, losing their driver's license. Something that's going to at least get them into the treatment room and then hopefully a therapist with a treatment approach that's going to be helpful to keep them in the treatment room to do the work. And once you break through that outer shell, that mask that they wear, if you can get that kind of break through and get down to the vulnerability and the insecurities, and it's very sad. I mean, because there's a lot of suffering underneath all of this stuff that they carry around and they portray to the world. It's very scary for them because they're hell bent on that quote unquote losing their edge in their marketplace where they have done so well. It's hard work as a therapist. It's hard work for them to really get deep into their soul to do the work that's necessary, but it's not impossible. It just requires leverage. If you don't have leverage, you don't have treatment, and if you don't have treatment, they're not likely to change. That's not just me, you know, trying to promote therapy. They really don't change easily or at all on their own. You can have an impact, you can influence, you know, as a partner you might be able to have some influence over some of the change in the relationship by using some of the strategies I've written about and talked about like empathic confrontation. There are ways of confronting them and setting limits that can be helpful and might bring about small meaningful changes. But to get a real overthrow, it takes professional help and leverage.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:23] Well, someone had written in, this is a while back, Jason, I don't know if you remember this. This woman had, I don't know if it was a boss or it was a colleague, who was clearly just extremely narcissistic. Her tactic to get rid of him was she acted as boring as possible. She talked really monotone. She didn't give him any approval, but she wasn't disapproving. That threw him into a little bit of a rage. So, she just acted like the most boring human being in the world and he actually just got so bored interacting with her that he decided to leave her alone because she wasn't giving them anything to work with. I thought that was kind of genius and I wonder what you think about this or was that just one specific instance in which that might actually work?
Wendy Behary: [00:56:04] Well, I imagine it could work, but in most cases they don't leave. They'll find other ways of entertaining themselves, stimulating themselves, and just become glad to not be getting bothered by a partner at home who's making demands or asking for anything. Boring, they'll just ignore her, close the door, go in the other room, find someone else to talk to, find something else to do. They have no trouble occupying their time and entertaining themselves. Again, there's a lot of seeking of soothing, stimulating activity, whether it's gambling or it's drinking or drugs or it's pornography or it's sexual acting or it's just workaholism. They'll find ways of keeping themselves busy, steering clear from the world of emotions. So, a boring partner may not be the end of the world. In some cases, it could be though, if that's all they've got. Let's say they're in remote places where they don't have access to anyone else. It might be that the boring person could drive in the way. But the other problem with narcissism is that at the heart of their makeup, beyond this shame and this sense of insecurity, is loneliness. They're very lonely people and so they don't typically leave their relationships unless they've got someone waiting in the wings. They may have like an entourage of fans and followers; in which case they'll go because they've got this little groupie crowd that will follow them or they've met someone else and so they're ready to move on. But they don't usually just go if they're alone, very hard for them to be alone. So, the torture, the partner they're living with, but they're not going to necessarily leave them and go off on their own.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:42] That's sort of terrifying cause like, oh, I can make them go away. Just kidding. Maybe not. You have some tactics that we discussed as well, one of which was the use of limit setting, and it sounds a little bit similar to what we were just talking about. Can we talk about limit setting and can we talk about keeping your vulnerability out of the conflict? I think these are useful for people that are listening right now and go, “Oh, that's what's going on. I knew something was wrong with him.”
Wendy Behary: [00:58:05] Yes, people who are listening to this, I say, straighten your back, straighten your spine. Work really hard on sturdying yourself and your skin. Find your adult self and keep that adult s elf very present when you are going to confront your narcissistic someone. That's just critical because what happens, as I was explaining in the beginning, when we are faced with someone who is narcissistic, what happens to us as we can get relegated to a childlike state, we can feel what we might have felt when we were very small and powerless and we end up then enabling them. We end up giving in. We end up apologizing. We end up explaining ourselves, tolerating things we shouldn't be instead of setting limits, so to set limits in a healthy way which isn't screaming and yelling because you know you've become the person you don't want to be who feels exhausted and out of control. Instead, we want to be in our healthiest adult, wisest adult position, standing on a platform where you can look at the narcissist and say, I know you're used to getting what you want when you want it. You've worked really hard to have that privilege in your position at work. Your parents always told you as long as you got straight A’s, you didn't have a curfew. You could do what you want. I know that's what you're used to, so it's not your fault, but it is your responsibility because it's not working in this relationship. It doesn't work here for me, so this has got to stop. You can't talk to me like that. I'm not your assistant. Not that. I think you should be talking to her that way either, but I'm not your assistant so it's got to stop. “Or what?” says the narcissist.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:59:47] Right. Yeah. I was going to just do that. Yeah. What are you going to do?
Wendy Behary: [00:59:51] If you're not ready for this because people listening will think, well, I'm not ready to leave yet. I've got little kids. I don't want them left in his custody when I'm not around to supervise. He's so careless and I would say if you're not ready for that, you can just start painting the inevitable path of saying things like, well, what am I going to do? I don't know. I see an inevitable end for us at some point. I can't imagine how we can sustain a relationship like this because I'm not happy now. They don't like that. They may get angry, they may continue to roar, they may stomp off, but you have just planted an important seed by saying this and watch, pay attention, see how it flowers. You may have to say it a few more times because the persistence and the repetition is really important. When you're setting limits, you can't back down. You can't give in. They're going to look for that loophole. You stand firm and you say, “No, no, I told you that this is not okay. I know it's what you're used to, but it's not working here and I'm done talking. I'm done talking to you. When you can have a conversation with me that's respectful, we can come back to the table, but I'm done.” And you leave. You walk away. “Well, what are you going to do? Leave me now.” “You know, that makes me sad. I hope it doesn't come to that, but it looks to me like we're on that inevitable path.” Just keep using this language. This will hit them in their rock bottom soul where they're the most afraid, which is of being left of failing and even of letting you down because of that superhero part of them. That needs to be all things to all people, so they won't tell you that. But what you might see starting to happen over time, this is where I meant, but you can have some influence, is that those behaviors, those edges will soften. Those behaviors may change a little bit, maybe not to your satisfaction. You may find yourself having to set the ultimate limit, which is to figure out how to get out as many people do. But for some it's not an easy solution. You know, because they are with children that they don't want to leave in the presence of this partner who is really not very careful. Seatbelts don't matter. I can drink and drive because I've got this super amazing tolerance for alcohol. Things that would just make one very nervous about having their children in their care even if they happen to be good parents, other times.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:02:08] This is interesting for me because anyone in a relationship has had a conversation where they've gotten that kind of gut punch at least once, right? In the decades or whatever, that someone's been in a relationship. Somebody goes, “Hey, we're fighting a lot or this doesn't work.” I remember doing that kind of thing in college. How do we keep our own vulnerability out of the conflict? How do we stay on the high road when conflict escalates? Because I can see a narcissistic person not just going, Oh well you're right. They're like, Oh-oh, this makes me really scared. I got to go nuclear now. Right? Or I got a threatened to go nuclear now. How do we retain a little bit of control? Because I can see somebody going, oh I got to regain control of this and flying off the handle and then the other person kind of takes the bait.
Wendy Behary: [01:02:50] Yes. Glad you said. That's a great question. I think that the greatest problem in confrontation, most people will say, “Oh yeah, I'm not very good in confrontation. I don't like to confront,” and especially when it comes to confronting someone who has narcissistic personality, really scary. Why is it scary? Well, it's scary. Not necessarily because of what they're going to say. They can go nuclear and they can get really angry. They can throw something; they can slam a door. It's not what they do that frightens us. It's how we imagine it's going to make us feel that frightened says that, oh my God, I'm going to cave in. Oh my God, I'm going to just go to jelly. Oh no, I'm just going to feel so awful in my body. I won't be able to tolerate it. When he screams back at me and starts threatening that, he's going to take the kids. I'm going to have no money or we're going to live in the poor house. So that's why we don't confront or that's why our confrontations may fall short. Even though our initial presentation, the one I was giving an example of was beautiful, right? It was beautiful. But we've got to be able to hang in there and remain sturdy enough. So, when they do blast you with a threat, you just turn on your heels and walk, or you say, “Please knock it off. This is not okay. Just not okay.” Now if they get violent, pick up the phone and call the police. Do what you have to do to protect yourself. Because safety is the first and foremost priority. But if they're shouting in the corner, they're mumbling threats. They're raising their eyes; they're getting red in the face. You've got to do your prep work.
[01:04:19] So here's the prep work for going into confrontation. The only way you can have that straight spine in that sturdy self and that sense of being in your adult skin is by prepping, meaning getting your vulnerable self, all vulnerability that relates to your most childlike, powerless, helpless part of your personality. Take that part of you, that wonderful, precious little part of you and imagine, use your powerful resource of imagination and put that part of you in an imaginary safe place. I know it sounds hokey, but this is what therapists will do. I teach therapists to do when they're about to enter the treatment room, I get little Wendy out of the way. Put her in a safe place. Tuck her in somewhere. Imagine she's out of earshot of this. Doesn't mean I'm not going to feel any triggering effects. I'm not going to have any like little gasps of breath when I'm in the middle of a difficult interaction, but I'm still in my adult skin so I can speak on behalf of what I'm feeling. I might even say, “Hey, this is making me really uncomfortable right now.” So now I'm a narrator, right? I'm not just reacting to it. I'm narrating my experience. This is making me really uncomfortable right now. “Oh, you're just so sensitive.” “Well, maybe I am, but then maybe you would be more careful if you really believed that. So, I'm going to leave the room now. I'm not talking with you into this state because it's making me uncomfortable. It's going to make me start doing things that I don't want to do because it's not helpful to you and it's not helpful to me and it's not helpful to us.” Boom, you're done. So, you can narrate on behalf of yourself, but you're not locked down in that horrible, vulnerable, helpless place because you've prepped yourself, you've anticipated certain reactions, you've tucked away your most vulnerable powerless self, and reminded yourself that I'm an adult, I have rights, I have options, I have a voice, I can speak. I can say whatso.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:06:16] So in closing here, I would love to know, why do we need to spend so much time understanding why a narcissist is put together in a certain way? I mean, why do I have to freaking study other people's pathology just to get by? It almost seems unfair. I understand it kind of academically, but it seems a little bit annoying that I have to suddenly become an expert in someone else's psychology just to navigate the relationship.
Wendy Behary: [01:06:39] Yeah, it is a little unfair, and you're right and you don't have to do anything. I would just say that there's a lot of value to be gained from understanding this very complicated personality. The more you know about the way they're put together and why they do what they do, the more you become armed with ways of protecting yourself, of not blaming yourself, not doubting and second guessing yourself on everything. And as much as you might say, when you're in the middle of an angry moment of even self-righteousness, healthy self-righteousness, you might say, I know it's not my fault. I know I'm not to blame for those affairs and for that horrible behavior. You know, to be able to say it from anger and to be able to say it from a steady, sturdy posture are two different things. You want to be able to know it from your sturdy best self. You want to make all decisions from your healthy, wisest self. Those decisions are greatly informed by your knowledge of what's happening with this person that you're up against. The more you understand. This meaning empathy, which is understanding really getting it. You are not at risk then for self-sacrificing, for allowing yourself to be subjugated for self-blame and for self-doubt so you become emancipated through that knowledge.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:08:01] Wendy Behary. Thank you so much. Really useful, a little scary but also, I think mostly it gives insight into what we might be dealing with and what we might not be dealing with. If we're just throwing the word around. But I love the insight into this world and I think it fascinating and I think it will help a lot of people see some red flags early enough that they can just cut and run if needed.
Wendy Behary: [01:08:23] Thank you Jordan. It's a real pleasure to be with you.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:08:27] Great big thank you to Wendy Behary. The book title is Disarming the Narcissist. It was surprising to me though that a little bit of narcissism is good for you. I guess that's a good sign for those of us that find ourselves acting like selfish little children here and there. I mean no, not to point any fingers or any or thumbs. All of links to her stuff will be in the show notes.
[01:08:50] We're teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships using systems and tiny habits over at our Six-Minute Networking course, which is free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. Now I know you want to do it later, but the problem with putting this off procrastination leads to stagnation when it comes to your personal and business relationships. So, don't kick that can down the road. The number one mistake I see people make is not digging the well before you get thirsty. Once you need these relationships, you're just too late to make them. The drills take a few minutes per day. I wish I knew this stuff 20 years ago. This is crucial and you ignore it at your own peril. You can find it all for free at jordanharbinger.com/course. And by the way, most of the guests here on the show, they subscribed to the course in the newsletter. So, come join us and you'll be in great company. Speaking of building relationships, you can always reach out and/or follow us on social. I'm at JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram.
[01:09:40] And the show is produced in association with PodcastOne. This episode was co-produced by Jason DeFillippo and Jen Harbinger, show notes and worksheets by Robert Fogarty, music by Evan Viola, and I'm your host, Jordan Harbinger. Our advice and opinions and those of our guests are their own and yes, I'm a lawyer, but I'm not your lawyer. So do your own research before implementing anything you hear on the show. And remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful, which should be in every episode. So please share the show with those you love, and even those you don't. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
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