March 31, 2020

NARC 101: How Emotional Distancing is as Healthy as Social Distancing

By Bridgette Morris


Author Bridgette Morris is a board-certified therapist and the creator of the NARC-B-Gone(tm) method. 


4 simple things you can do today to feel peace when things feel chaotic.

1. Join our weekly, online group coaching “Brit and your NBG! team” 

2. Subscribe to our FREE podcast, “Time Out with Brit & your NBG! team” for support.

3. Sign-up for our FREE mini-course: “5 plays in 5 days”.

4. Learn the NBG! 4 to score! 


Unless you’re living under a rock right now, you’re all too familiar with the concept of “social distancing,” because it’s something most of us have self-imposed in order to protect ourselves and our loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic. Human beings are naturally social, especially those of us who live in the United States. It’s rare for most people here to go a week without some sort of planned or spontaneous interaction with family, friends, and co-workers. And, it’s why many of us feel agitated after a week of enforced telecommuting and school closings, even though we feel fine and have no symptoms of the novel coronavirus.


While we are relatively safe from the virus in our homes, it’s impossible to escape it, at least metaphorically. It doesn’t feel like a stretch to believe that ninety-percent of our news, social media feeds, and personal conversations are about the pandemic, and how it’s affecting our lives and the world around us. It’s getting all the headlines. Would it surprise you to learn that there is another disease that affects over 160 million people in the U.S. every day that has been around long before COVID-19? Well, it’s true. It’s called Narcissistic Abuse, and it is rampant.


Narcissistic Abuse is a form of psychological and emotional manipulation projected by one person onto another. Not unlike the coronavirus, it invisibly invades your system, and before you
realize it, your whole life has become affected.  Unless you’re educated on how to spot and
prevent the disease, almost no one is immune.


Everyone is affected by narcissism to some degree, and everyone has at least some small measure of narcissistic behavior. We all saddle up on a high horse sometimes and refuse to listen to or consider anyone else. However, some people are constitutionally incapable of
empathy. Their whole lives are oriented towards themselves. They are, quite simply, narcissists, and any relationship with them is not a real connection. That’s why we call them NARCs.


Hopefully, you are surrounded by people who truly love and care about you, and most of your friendships are deep and real. However, almost all of us have encountered that one person who is
just toxic and self-centered. And worse, too many of us have become entangled with such people, and those relationships have resulted in serious, often irreparable damage to our reputations, finances, families, and lifestyles.


It’s important to note that the NARC in your life could be a parent, a spouse, a boss, a co-worker, a neighbor, or even someone you consider a friend. That’s why it is often very difficult to “just leave” the relationship. You can be forgiven if you’ve fallen victim to someone who somehow always makes the situation about them, or who seems sweet then stabs you in the back, or who is charming and then leaves you in the dust; worse for wear.  NARCs are masters of
disguise. They make you feel good and play on your self-assurance, then inexplicably pull the rug out from under you.  And, you go back for more, because, like most people, you are naturally
forgiving and compassionate. You don’t want to think the worst of people. But just like the classic Peanuts™ cartoon, Lucy always pulls the football away, leaving Charlie Brown flattened. Good Grief.


So, what does all of this have to do with emotional distancing? Well, just as social distancing has the immediate positive effect of protecting you against a pandemic, emotional distancing has
an immediate positive impact on your life also. It gets you off the NARC’s playing field so you can stop focusing on what the NARC is doing and take control of your life.  It gives you the space to stop enabling the NARC to infect you with negativity and confusion. Emotional distancing allows you to slow down the mental and emotional chaos spinning around you; to stop second-guessing
yourself.  It allows you to pause and shift your focus onto you.


Think of it like a football game, when a team has had several plays go horribly wrong. They need to call a time-out to huddle together, take a breath, regroup and refocus. That’s what emotional distancing does for someone who’s involved in a toxic relationship or even someone who is in uncertain times (like we are experiencing in our world right now).


Today, I’d like to challenge anyone to take a personal timeout to learn how to handle such difficult situations and difficult people by practicing daily emotional distancing. Regardless if you
are involved with a toxic person or just struggling right now with the anxiety present in the world, take a personal timeout! This may be hard with a house filled with folks quarantined at home, but find a time and a space just for yourself. I find the bathroom to be most convenient for this. Draw a bath. Light a candle. Put on some soft music. Put on some headphones to block out everyone
and everything, if you have too. Just take one moment for yourself, and allow your mind to stop spinning. Breathe and focus on just you. What about you (not your kids, not your partner or spouse), what about you, makes you feel good and happy? Pick just one thing. Then give yourself a hug and say thank you.


Practicing and implementing emotional distance doesn’t mean you have to physically quarantine yourself in the bathroom each day. You can, at any point in the day, take a pause, and sit in
your personal bubble. It’s important to walk away from chaos and turmoil, even metaphorically, and feel in charge of how you feel and what you do.


I invite you to check out our website, to learn about our daily support to help you learn emotional distancing. We also offer many tools to help folks to learn how to deal with toxic people and circumstances, as well as how to spot a NARCs game. Even better, we teach you how to outwit them and empower yourself to change your own life. Are you ready to be a game-changer? Are you in?