How To Deal With The Empty Narcissistic Stare

How To Deal With The Empty Narcissistic Stare Shutterstock

The empty narcissistic stare is a seriously unsettling look that can make you feel like you’re being scrutinized by a predator, and it’s a tactic some narcissists use to intimidate and control people. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to let it get to you. When you’re on the receiving end of a narcissist’s relentless gaze, here are some ways to deal with it.

1. Remember that the stare is a tactic, not a reflection of your worth.

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The first and most important thing to remember is that the narcissistic stare is a manipulation tactic. It’s designed to make you feel uneasy and self-conscious, to throw you off balance. It’s not a genuine expression of their feelings towards you, nor is it a reflection of your inherent worth. By recognizing this, you can detach yourself from the emotional impact of the stare.

2. Don’t engage or react.

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The narcissist is desperate for a reaction from you, whether it’s fear, anger, or confusion. By not giving them the satisfaction of a response, you take away their power. Maintain a neutral expression, avoid eye contact if possible, and continue with what you were doing. As Medical News Today notes, this is known as “gray rocking” and can be super effective. This lack of reaction can be incredibly frustrating for them and may even cause them to back down.

3. Maintain your composure and confidence.

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Narcissists are often drawn to people they perceive as confident and self-assured. By maintaining your composure and exuding confidence, you can subvert their expectations and potentially disarm them. Stand tall, speak clearly and confidently, and don’t let their stare intimidate you. Remember, you are in control of your own emotions and reactions.

4. Set boundaries and assert yourself.

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If the narcissistic stare is part of a larger pattern of manipulative or abusive behavior, it’s important to set firm boundaries and assert yourself. Clearly communicate your expectations and what you will and will not tolerate. Don’t be afraid to walk away or remove yourself from the situation if necessary. Your well-being is paramount, and you have the right to protect yourself.

5. Don’t take it personally.

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Remember, the narcissist’s behavior is a reflection of their own insecurities and issues, not yours. Their stare is not a personal attack, but rather a desperate attempt to regain control or feel superior. By not taking it personally, you can maintain your emotional equilibrium and avoid getting caught up in their manipulative games.

6. Focus on your own well-being.

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Dealing with a narcissist can be draining, both emotionally and mentally. It’s essential to prioritize your own well-being by practicing self-care, engaging in activities you enjoy, and surrounding yourself with supportive people. Remember, you are not responsible for their behavior, and you deserve to feel safe and respected.

7. Reach out for support if you need it.

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If you’re struggling to cope with the narcissistic stare or other manipulative behaviors, don’t hesitate to get help. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, therapist, or support group. Sharing your experiences and feelings can be incredibly validating and empowering. Remember, you’re not alone in this, and there are people who care and want to help.

8. Call them out on their behavior (if it feels safe to do so).

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In some situations, it might be appropriate to directly address the narcissist’s behavior. Calmly and assertively tell them that their stare is making you uncomfortable and ask them to stop. This can catch them off guard and may even cause them to back down. However, use caution and only do this if you feel safe and empowered to do so.

9. Remember, it’s not about winning or losing.

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Dealing with a narcissist isn’t a competition. It’s not about proving who’s right or wrong, or who’s more powerful. It’s about protecting yourself and your well-being. Don’t get caught up in trying to “win” against them. Focus on maintaining your dignity, setting boundaries, and disengaging from their toxic behavior.

10. Don’t try to change them.

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One of the most frustrating things about dealing with narcissists is their resistance to change. It’s tempting to try to reason with them, explain how their behavior is hurtful, or hope that they’ll see the error of their ways. However, this is often a futile effort. Narcissists rarely take responsibility for their actions or acknowledge the impact they have on other people. Instead of trying to change them, focus on protecting yourself and setting boundaries.

11. Limit your interactions with them.

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If possible, try to minimize your contact with the narcissist. This might mean spending less time with them, avoiding certain topics of conversation, or even cutting ties altogether if the relationship is too toxic. By limiting your interactions, you reduce the opportunities for them to manipulate or hurt you. Remember, you have the right to choose who you spend your time with and create a safe and positive environment for yourself.

12. Find healthy ways to cope with the stress.

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Dealing with a narcissist can be incredibly stressful, Healthline acknowledges. It’s important to find healthy ways to cope with the emotional and mental toll it takes. This might involve exercise, meditation, journaling, spending time in nature, or talking to a therapist. Find what works best for you and make self-care a priority. Remember, your well-being is important, and you deserve to feel happy and healthy.

13. Educate yourself about narcissism.

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The more you understand about narcissism, the better equipped you’ll be to deal with it. Read books, articles, or blogs about the topic. Watch videos or listen to podcasts by experts. By educating yourself, you can gain valuable insights into the narcissist’s mindset, motivations, and tactics. This knowledge can empower you to set boundaries, protect yourself, and avoid getting caught up in their manipulative games.

14. Don’t isolate yourself.

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Narcissists often try to isolate their victims from friends and family. They might make you feel like you’re the only one who understands them, or that nobody else will believe you. Don’t fall for this trap. Stay connected with your loved ones, reach out for support, and don’t be afraid to share your experiences. Remember, you’re not alone in this, and there are people who care about you and want to help.

15. Trust your gut instincts.

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If something feels off or uncomfortable, trust your gut instincts. Don’t second-guess yourself or doubt your own perceptions. Your intuition is a powerful tool, and it’s often right. If you feel like you’re being manipulated, gaslighted, or mistreated, don’t ignore those feelings. Take steps to protect yourself, set boundaries, and remove yourself from the situation if necessary.

Phoebe Mertens is a writer, speaker, and strategist who has helped dozens of female-founded and led companies reach success in areas such a finance, tech, science, and fashion. Her keen eye for detail and her innovative approach to modern womanhood makes her one of the most sought-out in her industry, and there's nothing she loves more than to see these companies shine.

With an MBA from NYU's Stern School of Business and features in Forbes and Fast Company she Phoebe has proven she knows her stuff. While she doesn't use social media, she does have a private Instagram just to look at pictures of cats.