You’ve had it. Enough is enough.
Finally, you’ve decided to confront the narcissist in your life.
You’re tired of the lies. The deceit. The backbiting and character assassination. The ongoing smear campaign.
So you choose a time. You choose a place. You decide it’s time to hold the deceiver accountable.
You gather up the strength. You’re ready to do it. Once and for all, this overgrown child who’s been mentally abusing you needs to take responsibility.
He or she needs to know the impact it’s had on your life. How devastating his or her actions have been.
But there’s just one problem.
Narcissists don’t like being held accountable. In fact, they’ll do practically anything to avoid it.
How Narcissists Avoid Being Held Accountable
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What happens when you try to hold a narcissist accountable?
You could experience what some psychologists call “narcissistic rage.”
This means the person with the personality disorder flies off the handle.
The rage is typically very disproportionate to the situation. It erupts suddenly and it’s directed at you.
Narcissistic rage is a useful tool, the narcissist has learned. It’s the best thing he or she has, to escape accountability.
So if you plan to confront a narcissist, prepare for an adult temper tantrum.
Knowing this ahead of time is a good thing. Because you know what to possibly expect.
With any luck, this knowledge decreases the odds that you get drawn into the drama.
Refusing To Take Responsibility for Actions
Tantrums are one way people with character disorders avoid taking responsibility. There are a few others.
Deflection is a favorite.
Instead of admitting what’s been done, the narcissist will turn the tables. He or she will accuse you of the exact same things.
This often happens when you try to hold them accountable.
Sometimes a narcissist may also accuse you of a litany of other imagined offenses.
This is done to deflect. Also, the narc wants you to apologize for a real or imagined slight, instead of saying those dreaded words, “I’m sorry.”
Sometimes you’ll hear an apology. But it will be weak. It may also be immediately followed by a litany of your faults.
So be prepared for this reaction. In order to prevent getting backed into a corner and “needing” to apologize when you haven’t done anything wrong.
Dealing With The Never Wrong Syndrome
In my personal experience (and I’m not a mental health professional) if you’re dealing with a narcissist you’re also dealing with “The Never Wrong Syndrome.”
So you’ll see a lot of ducking responsibility.
This is because narcissists hate not being right. They justify their actions in their heads.
They also hate responsibility. Which is why people with anti-social personality disorders usually make lousy parents.
Oftentimes they skip out on the day to day task of raising children. Although you will see them cheering loudly at youth sporting events. They will also try to convince you they are wonderful, hands-on parents. But it’s all a facade.
A narcissist has gone through life without ever taking responsibility. He or she isn’t going to start now. So bear this in mind, in order to temper your expectations.
A Narcissist Can’t Accept Responsibility
As I mentioned earlier, I’m not a mental health expert. Just someone who’s experienced narcissistic abuse first hand. I try to cover this topic on this natural health site.
Because it seems to be on the rise. And because it can create health problems. (Avoiding morally disordered people in the first place is the very best way to deal with them.)
Bear in mind I’m not a licensed therapist. So don’t make big decisions based upon my blog posts alone. Seek professional advice if you’re dealing with someone with a history of physical violence.
However, from experience, I would suggest going into the confrontation armed with the idea that responsibility is a foreign concept. The person who hurt you will continue to behave badly in the future.
Expecting your confrontation to bring about substantive change is unrealistic.
So decide to confront with realistic expectations. Watching out for any tripwires you’re likely to encounter.
Below here are a few things you may want to watch out for. (Based upon my personal experience in narcopathology.)
Narcissists Refusing To Take Responsibility for Their Actions
- Expect to see narcissistic rage. Mentally prepare yourself for a tantrum. Vow to remain cool, calm and collected. Don’t get angry. Walk away if you need to. A good line is, “I can see this isn’t a good time to discuss this. Let’s choose another time when you’re not as emotional.” (Warning: This line may trigger more rage. Be very careful if the person you confront is prone to physical violence.) Follow through on your plan to walk away.
- You choose the time and location. This is important for several reasons. One is that it gives you more control. Two is that you pick the setting. An abuser wants you to come unglued. In front of an audience. So make sure that can’t happen. (Caveat: Narcissists are dangerous. So make sure your physical safety isn’t compromised. If so, you may have to pick a public spot.)
- Don’t trade insults. Keep your emotions in check. This shows you’re in control. Also, narcissists are sneaky. So they wouldn’t be above secretly recording the conversation and playing it for others. They’ll of course choose the parts that make you look loony.
- It’s better to confront someone personally, if possible. I’d be very careful of email confrontations and text messages. Because these will be for public consumption. If your narcissist is like every other, he or she has spent a decent amount of time engaged in character assassination. Your emotional email will be more “evidence.”
- Be realistic. Getting a narcissist to mouth the words “I’m sorry” probably won’t change his or her character for the better. Or get this person to rethink how they treat others. Look at it more of an exercise for yourself. So you can say what’s on your mind.
- This might reignite the smear campaign. Narcissists want others to think they’re kind, thoughtful and wonderful. They’ll worry you’ll tell people the truth. They might do a preemptive strike to discredit you. I’m of the mind though that true friends won’t believe the lies. People of weaker character will. Just be aware this is a risk you take when confronting a narc. In a workplace environment provoking a confrontation may be a bad idea.
- Work toward forgiveness. Because that’s the only thing that will truly set you free.
If you’d like to read more on how to deal with narcissists from a personal, first-hand perspective, I’ve also written two books, which you can see below.