The essential action that most people miss when overcoming a narcissist is taking radical responsibility for their actions. While so many coaches, therapists, and counselors emphasize the emotional effect of what has been done to you, few leverage the power of what you can do for yourself.
Why Taking Responsibility is So Powerful in the Face of Narcissism
Taking responsibility essentially means we recognize and accept the aspects of our lives that we can control. While most people associate responsibility with guilt, they are not the same.
In life, everyone is presented with a variety of circumstances — some of which we can control and some of which we cannot.
We cannot ethically control other people’s actions, how a narcissist treats us, just like we cannot control the weather. Attempting to control people — rather than influence or inspire them — is the basis of abuse and a vital deficiency of the narcissistic and other psychological disorders.
However, we always have the right to control how we react, what aspects of life we concentrate on, and to a large extent how we spend our time and who we associate with.
What Taking Responsibility is Not
Taking responsibility does not mean that we beat ourselves up because of things that happened in the past. It does not mean that we are at fault for the way that an abusive narcissist or other toxic people in our lives treat us.
Shame and guilt are not a part of taking responsibility. They are part of the control program that dominates us. Abusers use them to convince us to give up our internal power and subordinate our desires to the manipulator.
What you might experience as you learn to take responsibility is regret — the experience of realizing the full extent of the past mistakes you’ve made. Regret is a good thing because our internal guidance system is learning what didn’t work in the past and opening up to new ideas that might work in the future.
All of us are privileged with the right to free will and a profound ability to control our destiny. If our life isn’t going the way we want it to, we have two choices — 1) abdicate our self-control, blame others, find excuses why we never could have succeeded anyway, or 2) lay claim to what is rightfully in our control, realize where we went wrong, employ active creativity to better our lives.
The first path is what Nietzsche called the “slave morality,” a sad justification and perpetuation of the domination mindset. The second is the route exclusively employed by happy, powerful, self-actualized individuals.
How We Take Responsibility
The key to taking responsibility is radical truth, which blows away all falsity. Pain can obscure the facts when we try to escape or deny it. Denial is the root of all falsehood.
To start taking responsibility, find a quiet and safe place where you can enter into extreme focus and concentration. Use whatever methods you know to enhance this mood, be it mediation, breathing exercises, yoga, music, scents, candles, etc.
Imagine yourself in a room with your future happy and perfect self. Notice what they look like, how they act, what their expression and “energy” feel like.
Now ask this person what you deny now. They may tell you outright, or you might be shown images of past events. Notice how the experience makes you feel. Often you may experience grief, which indicates unprocessed emotions, or a sense of tightness in the heart, which indicates extreme denial.
The key to processing these emotions is to focus all your attention on them. Just allow them to be. Experience the depth of sensation to the fullest. Let them take as much time as they need, and contrary to common expectation, they will flow away from you expediently.
As you continue to process these emotions, you will notice how you responded to these situations at the time. What parts of the event were in your control, and which parts were out of your control.
Eventually, you will be able to look over your life with objectivity and power of perception and make deliberate moves to better your everyday experience.
This is the first step into a much wider world.
I also recommend you give the following exercise a shot after you try this previous technique a few times.
Get More Help
I offer coaching to victims of narcissistic abuse who seek a positive and profound method of overcoming abuse and developing self-actualization. For more information, see the following links for opportunities for one-on-one coaching as well as programs, courses, and other resources.