I decided to write this on day eleven of Trumps presidency after watching friends and family still glued to CNN exclaim in disbelief, “Can you believe Trump just ____,” fill in the blank here. The reality TV show that should be entertaining, and would be if only the narcissistic character were not the President of the United States, has drawn the attention of millions who sit glued to television and mobile devises, unable to step away from the drama and chaos that has infiltrated every waking hour of our lives.
I’m not going to waste time giving you more than a simple definition of narcissistic personality disorder because surely in the days to come there will be many articles written to verify that indeed we have a mentally ill president.
Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism. (from the Mayo Clinic)
The psychological warning signs? “Scapegoating …, degrading, ridiculing, and demeaning rivals and critics, fostering a cult of the Strong Man who appeals to fear and anger, promises to solve our problems if we just trust in him, reinvents history and has little concern for truth (and) sees no need for rational persuasion.”
Instead I’m going to give you action steps to help direct your focused time and energy in a healthy, positive, hope filled direction.
Do not be surprised by what Trump does. Don’t try to analyze it or understand it. Accept that he’s mentally ill and educate yourself on narcissism if you need concrete coping tools. Stop wasting energy being surprised or shocked. Every time you feel shock and then try to understand why or how Trump comes to a decision it drains energy that could be used to defeat his agenda.
Pick your battle. We already know what Trump plans to do. He is systematically checking off every campaign promise. His next actions are totally predictable. Part of the narcissist success depends on all of us being drawn into his drama. That way good or bad, he remains the center of attention. Don’t let him monopolize your thoughts. You might think that being informed is important and that the information will help you act. But ask yourself this question—in the past ten days what percentage of time have you spent in shock, swearing, feeling hopeless, wishing for revenge, etc. and how much time have you spent taking action that might stop the Trump agenda? We need every person to focus and take action. The only way we can do that, when Trumps goal is to do whatever he can to shock and disrupt and then draw attention to himself as the center of everyone’s universe, is to pick one area and work hard on that one area. Focus your information gathering on that one area; educate yourself on members of congress who support your views, work to defeat members of congress who support Trump. (Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda is a must read). Remember Trump wins when he gets you all worked up, shocked at his behavior, and confused over what step to take next. He also wins when he divides us, so no matter what one area you focus on, try to keep the BIG goal in mind, what we are all fighting for, every march, airport protest and all protests that follow. That goal starts with the constitution and the rights many have died to protect. Equality, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to name a few.
Cast your everyday vote. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed it, but I feel it everywhere I go. People are kinder to each other, more helpful and connected. Granted we might all be shell shocked and in mourning, but we are also empowered by the knowledge that we the people indeed have a voice. For some of us, this is the first time in our lives we protested. We were too young to march for civil rights and Vietnam, but we’re here now and we are millions strong. Believe that your everyday vote has power. What do I mean? As Obama said, the job is to be a citizen. Every day in big and small ways you make choices. Where you spend your money, how you reach out in your own community, the judgments you make, the love you show. Every day you are given multiple opportunities to live what you value. Every day we all choose what we support with our time. Do NOT cast your time for Trump. Turn away from the carnival caller who is trying to pull us all into his tent where we are distracted while he holds center stage. Cast your vote instead for the America you know and want. Love trumps hate. Women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights. Whatever tugs at your heart, cast that vote.
Guard your thoughts carefully. A narcissist believes his illusions. Trump is trying to normalize behavior that most of us find abhorrent. There was more scandal and discord, more protest and pain in ten days caused by a President who is supposed to protect this country than there has been in the last ten years. So buckle your seat belts and get that oxygen mask on because he’s going to repeat his crazy beliefs over and over using different words (but the message will be the same); we can only become winners if others lose, all news that doesn’t praise him is fake news, every decision he’s making is the best, greatest, most brilliant. And if we aren’t careful after hearing it day in and day out for weeks at a time, we risk becoming an emotionally abused nation. As anyone can attest who has lived with a narcissist, it doesn’t take long before you question your own sanity. You are always wrong while the narcissist is always right, and unlike a normal, healthy person, who is open to questioning behavior, communicating, making amends, admitting some fault—the narcissist is SURE he’s right, he’s loud and persistent, and he will not change, will not admit to being wrong, will not hear or see any point of view but his own. Therefore we have to keep reminding ourselves and each other, that we are NOT the crazy ones. It might even come down to repeating these words silently whenever you hear Trump speak or read what he has done: he is mentally ill, he is mentally ill, he is mentally ill—just to protect and preserve your own sanity. Then be sure to follow that with—I refuse to feel fear, I reject his words, I reject his view of the world which I know are not real. And when he does yet another thing that terrifies and divides, remember to choose love. That choice is just a thought away.
If you take these steps you have a chance at defeating a narcissist—at least as you and the rest of the world define defeat. Trump will continue to adhere to alternative truths and live in his alternate reality (remember the Truman Show). For as long as he is in office, Trump will respond to the world he believes is real without having a clue that he’s made it all up. You on the other hand, with this survival guide might avoid the emotional abuse and confusion those who live with narcissists suffer, and instead live a healthy productive life focused on defeating Trump’s agenda!