How To Deal with A Narcissist at Family Gatherings?

How To Deal with A Narcissist at Family Gatherings? how to deal with a narcissist at family gatherings?
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When you have a narcissist or just that difficult person in your family, family gatherings can feel stressful and difficult instead of that fun place you wished for. Dealing with a narcissistic aunt, uncle, parent, or sibling who brings constant criticism, drama, and painful memories makes you want to avoid the event altogether.

But avoiding family events completely can lead to feelings of guilt, sadness, and resentment. You want to enjoy time with the family members you care about, without narcissistic relatives ruining the experience. So, how can you attend these gatherings while staying calm and protected from their manipulative behavior?

Have Clear Boundaries

The first step is to set clear boundaries to protect yourself. This means allowing yourself to step away, end conversations, or take a break from any interactions that feel harmful, manipulative, or intent on causing drama. You don’t have to let anyone, even family, disrupt your peace. You should also understand that they will cross boundaries, and whenever you can, do not let them corner you or be alone with them.

You can also have ready-made responses. This allows you to maintain your boundaries firmly and confidently, ensuring you can disengage from harmful conversations smoothly. Prepare these responses ahead of time so that you know what to say for those sensitive or triggering topics they mostly raise.

For example, if your narcissistic relative starts criticizing you or bringing up a sensitive topic like “Where is your ex-husband?”, you can calmly say, “I don’t want to discuss this right now,” and walk away. If they persist, you can excuse yourself to get some fresh air or join another group of family members. This way, you protect your wellbeing without getting drawn into their negativity.

Practice The Grey Rock Method

This leads us to one of the most powerful strategies for dealing with narcissists: the “grey rock” method. When a narcissist tries to start arguments or get an emotional reaction from you, staying calm and giving very little response can stop them.

By keeping your responses minimal, changing the subject, or politely saying things like, “I don’t want to discuss this today,” you take away the attention they want from causing conflict.

If the narcissist tries to escalate the situation by insulting or baiting you, don’t react. Stay calm, avoid engaging further, or simply excuse yourself without making a scene.

The more calm and unavailable you remain, the less satisfaction they will get from their attempts to provoke you. If you find yourself reacting to their jabs, go easy on yourself and understand that they’re quite skilled at really provoking you to react.

It also helps to have realistic expectations about what “quality time” with a narcissist looks like. Deep, mutually validating intimacy is unlikely. Instead, aim for small talk that avoids triggering subjects, enjoy parallel activities like watching a game together without much interaction, or have a quiet coffee date away from the larger family gathering.

If everything else fails, it’s okay to limit the time you spend with your narcissistic relatives or even establish a policy of not attending family gatherings every other year if they become too emotionally draining. Ultimately, you don’t owe anyone the role of being a verbal punching bag just because you’re related by DNA.

It’s a simple truth: the more you understand it, the freer you become. You might feel like you owe your family everything, but that’s mainly because of how society has shaped us. However, deep down, this can lead to resentment, especially when it means doing things you don’t want to do, like attending family gatherings. Remember, you have your own life to cherish, and it takes courage to break away from societal norms.

So, as tempting as it may be to try and have that well-meaning heart to heart, hoping this time they’ll have an epiphany and change, don’t bother. Preserving your own internal peace is the only sane option, even if that means foregoing those family gatherings altogether, even if it means fabricating a white lie so that you don’t have to go.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these toxic patterns, then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.



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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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