Many people consider narcissism as a personality disorder, but most of us just categorize it as a personality trait. In whichever definition of the word we might believe, you can take it for granted that if you are not in good books of a narcissist, they would try to destroy your self-worth. Having a narcissist boss or colleague is one thing, but if you have a narcissist father-in-law, it makes the situation much more complicated. Here are some ways you can deal with a narcissist father-in-law.
How to deal with a narcissist father-in-law
Having to deal with a narcissistic person from your partner’s family can be exasperating, and many a times, suicidal for your relationship, if you do not put in efforts to prevent the behavior of the family member from wreaking your marriage. If you are having to deal with a narcissistic father in law, then here are a few things you can do to keep your esteem and dignity intact and keep your marriage ‘narcissism proof’.
1. Feel good about yourself – come what may
Most narcissistic people hurt other people’s sentiments by being condescending and vain. They often might place you on a pedestal one moment, only to push you down the other, leaving you feeling low and inferior. If your father in law is in a habit of constantly pointing out your mistakes, telling you how wrong you are or how less your talents are, never let this unwarranted criticism affect you any time. Difficult as it may seem, the key to keep yourself from being hurt from your father in law’s criticism is to become immune to them. This you can do by developing a strong sense of dignity about yourself. If you have unshakable faith in yourself and feel good about yourself, nothing anyone says can affect your esteem.
2. Make his narcissism become a problem for himself
Is your father in law constantly taunting you about how bad your cooking is or how awful your coffee tastes? Does he keep boasting about how well he cooks or makes coffee? Try requesting him, sweetly, to show you how to cook a difficult recipe or make a good coffee. Pretend you genuinely are awed by his talents and want to learn from him, so that you may become at least half as good as him. You will see then, how he backs down and admits your coffee is actually good enough. By doing this, you are subtly asking your father in law to prove his high handedness. By thus making your father in law’s behavior become a problem for himself (since he knows he cannot cook as well as you), you will ensure that he refrains from taunting you in this way in the future. Addressing his narcissistic behavior in this way, part by part, you can ensure that his narcissism slowly loses its edge over time.
3. Express your disapproval for his lack of empathy in a calm way
A narcissistic person often has no empathy towards the people around him. This lack of empathy, especially in a family member like the father in law, can be very frustrating, since it disrupts the harmonious functioning of the family. It does help by making your father in law realize that his empathy is required, but only when it is done in a calm way. If you adopt an accusatory tone, it will only do more harm than good. A good way could be asking your father in law if he could ‘please’ look after his grandchild for some time so that you can finish your chores. You can tell him how the kid wants to play and is not allowing you to work, and how great a help it would be if he could take care of the kid for some time. By thus making your father in law feel important and at the same time making him realize your difficulty, you will be overcome his narcissism successfully.
4. Make him take more interest in you
If your father in law views you with more respect and pride, he will be less narcissistic with you. Try to interest your father in law in your achievements, your hobbies and in general, your life. Usually narcissistic people are too self absorbed to acknowledge the likes and views of others. If your father in law cuts you short and starts with his self praise, just make a casual comment like, “well, it seems like you are not interested.” The comment should be in a very casual tone, with no sarcasm or anger. It could even be accompanied by an empathetic smile showing that you acknowledge that your life does not interest him though he is making an effort to listen. Though the comment will make him feel a bit uncomfortable your gracious smile will assuage him and he will listen more intently to what you are saying.
5. You need not oblige, but you can speak Obligingly
Does your narcissistic father in law insist that what he says or does is only correct, and what others say is wrong every time? Does he insist that you and you partner always listen to his ideas and implement them? Opposing him or refusing to listen outright will only inflame his ego more and leave to fuming emotions. Even though you do not agree to what he is saying, do not give a ‘no’ on his face. Tell him you will surely try his ideas and do as he says. You can always go back and say you tried but the idea didn’t work. This way you can do what you think is best without hurting his pride. Of course, if what he says carries enough weight, there is no harm in you or your partner listening to him, for that is how a family should work, is it not?
Is your father-in-law a narcissist or is it just your imagination?
If you feel that you are surrounded by narcissist people, then there’s a high probability that you are one. What you might call your self-esteem might be your narcissism. So, before passing everyone else around you as a narcissist, take a look at these 5 qualities.
5 Definitive Traits of a narcissist
Self-esteem helps you stay up the spirit and motivated all the time. You love yourself and put in your best efforts to attain success in life. The problem occurs when this self-love turns into an obsession. You find it hard to entertain the idea that you may have faults like most others. The illusion of self-love keeps you from moving on in life. You fail to take learning from your mistakes, which are not even mistakes in your viewpoint. Here are a few signs that you are stuck with a narcissist:
1. It is all about you
Narcissists love to talk about themselves as they are deeply engaged in self-love. When you talk about something, it has to be about them. They praise themselves, boast off their achievements and may go to any level to convince you to accept that. If you utter up something they do not like, you are their biggest enemy. They are always ready with their list of excuses as if excuses are their best friends. They do not let you blame them for anything and are always ready to fight back.
2. Always particular about their appearance
Not all the people who dress well or take a very good care of themselves are narcissists. Narcissists are always over-concerned about the way they look. They may have neatly trimmed hair, well-ironed clothed and well-applied nails. You find them hard to compromise with their looks come what may.
3. Averse to criticism
Narcissist hate when people question them even when the person means an honest enquiry. They may lose their cool and take out their anger on you. Criticism hurts them and when they are hurt, they hurt you back. It does not mean that they do not criticize others. They often get indulge in criticizing people to safeguard their self-respect. They consider it their birthright to criticize people. Even when you share your personal feelings with them, they may take it as blame on them.
4. An awesome first impression
Narcissists are good at impressing others especially in the first meeting. You find them likable, attractive and well mannered. Research shows that this is the reason why they can easily crack job interviews. They are charismatic people who are out and out positive when you meet them the first time.
5. Narcissists are not always shy or loud
Zlatan Krizan, an assistant professor of department of psychology from Lowa State University believes that narcissists are not necessarily loud and grandiose. They may be shy and quite who are always sitting in a dark and lonely corner waiting for their turn. While grandiose narcissists always brag and show off, shy narcissists are equally repulsive when they get an opportunity to do that. To your amazement, most narcissists have symptoms of grandiose and shy narcissists in them.
Stop being a narcissist
Do not intentionally try to hide you weaknesses, as you are only a human being full of faults. If you hide your weaknesses, you can never work on them or turn them into your strengths. The biggest problem with narcissist is not that they love themselves but the fact that they hide things they do not really appreciate themselves. Learn to laugh at yourself since it makes you only more human.
You make true friends when you let others see this side to your personality. Remember each one of us hates self-obsessed people who are more concerned about themselves. Your critics are your biggest well-wishers as they point out your mistakes and give you reasons to work on yourself. You must be thankful to them as they turn you into a better human being.
You fail to learn from your experiences when you are always bragging about yourself. Narcissism not only keeps you from turning into a better person but may also cost you trustworthy friends, as no one really likes to stay around those who sing their own praises.