I’m not sure this topic has anything to do with Narcissism per se, but it has been on my mind for a few weeks. When something stays on my mind, I know it’s time to write about it.
So, when is understanding and acceptance like being hit over the head with a blunt object?
I think there is a misunderstanding in the minds of a lot of people [particularity the Narcissist] when it comes to understanding and acceptance. We all know the kind of acceptance that involves existing facts. For example, we all accept that the sun comes up every morning. When a friend is ill or a loved one is hurt, we all accept that it is sad for them or painful. They will need help and nurturing.
The phrases, “I need space”, “I need time”, and any of the other incarnations this plea can take are frequently legitimate. I urge all my clients to accept that these needs are real and should be honored whenever possible. One cannot talk a man or woman out of needing these things anyway. Humans have needs. It’s only when one person’s needs are paramount instead of being balanced with the needs of others, that we find emotional abuse.
But, we all need to remember that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. We will all find ourselves on both sides of this coin at some point in our lives, and not only does there have to be acceptance of reality on one side, but there has to be acceptance of the reality that one action will cause another’s reaction.
In my experience, so many people think that just because they have explained the situation at the outset, that it means the action itself is consequence free. It isn’t. We may all recognize the truth of another’s situation or needs, but it doesn’t mean the situation doesn’t have an effect on us. It has consequences.
I was recently in a conversation where I was told, “But you knew I had to do it. You knew what was on my plate.”. And I did know. I did understand. I did accept the reality of the situation. But the statement wasn’t meant to make me understand any further truth, it was to invalidate my reaction to it. Essentially saying that since I knew the situation, that I should have had “no reaction”. As if my acceptance of the truth of the matter meant I was not entitled to my reactions [cause and effect].
In this example, a partner takes his [or her] space for an extended period, comes back, and then expects life to just go on as it was before. He or she expects no recriminations, no consequences, and no conflict. The Narcissist takes this to an extreme of course. He or she needs everything his or her way, and expects no consequences ever.
For the rest of us, these experiences are situational, less severe, and can usually be solved, but the mechanism is often the same. Ultimately acceptance of another’s situation often results in losing our ability to express our own truth, or our own reaction to the situation. Simply put, we’re expected to just “suck it up”. Suddenly, one’s own gift of understanding and acceptance towards the situation of another is turned into a blunt object, and we’re rendered mute, and accused of all manner of thing if we express a reaction.
I urge clients to find ways of accepting the realities of others, but at the same time urge them of find their own voice and express their own reactions to the experiences. It simply isn’t an either/or world. People can understand and accept, and still have legitimate reactions to circumstances. In my opinion, a person who needs the time is entitled to the time, but also must deal with the consequences of that action. In other words, “take responsibility” for what is created—both good and bad.
More often than not, it is all about one person not seeing the consequences of an action, and no matter how right they may feel about “taking some time” or whatever the situation is or was, there will always be consequences that have to be accepted as well.
It just works that way. There are no free passes when it comes to relationships and the effects created, and ultimately if responsibility isn’t taken, there is no harmony.
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