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Red Table Talk: Jada Pinkett-Smith discusses how to spot a narcissist (and what to do about it)

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We all know one… Jada Pinkett Smith’s latest Red Table Talk teaches us how to deal with the narcissists in our lives.

You know the type. They talk over you, think they’re right about everything and never apologise for hurting your feelings or making you question your worth.

We all know a narcissist, but what’s the best way to deal with those in our lives who have narcissistic tendencies? Jada Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talk has the answers. 

As famous for its no-filter advice as it is bombshell revelations, this week’s episode saw Jada, daughter Willow and ‘Gammy’ Adrienne sit down with renowned psychologist Dr. Ramani to share the secrets of surviving a narcissist.

Because, as Dr Ramani explained, there is more to being a narcissist than just being self-absorbed and egotistical; narcissism often leads to the  toxic pattern of behaviour that is often at the root of many abusive relationships.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to spot and survive a narcissist:

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What is a narcissist?

People who think too highly of themselves are often labelled as narcissists, but by Dr. Ramani’s definition, true narcissists are deeply insecure, which they cover with the grandiosity, entitlement and arrogance we recognise as narcissism.

Narcissists can be very charming at first, but later fall into a cycle of controlling the situation to suit their needs and wants. From hogging the conversation to love bombing, narcissists believe that they have the power to dictate the terms of your relationship.

However, narcissism can be more sinister than an inflated sense of ego. “There is this lack of empathy which to me is the most lethal part,” Dr. Ramani explained. “They don’t care. These are folks who are very controlling. Sometimes they’re downright paranoid. They think people are out to get them all the time.” 

How to spot a narcissist

Narcissism manifests in different ways in different people, but one universal narcissistic trait is gaslighting. Gaslighting is a type of manipulation where you get power over a person by doubting and invalidating their reality.

“When you deny some’s reality, it cause people to doubt themselves,” Dr. Ramani told the table. “When it happens repeatedly to you, you feel like you’re literally going crazy. You no longer believe yourself.”

When Willow asked if denying their words or actions in an argument was also a form of gaslighting, Dr. Ramani confirmed “when you feel like you need proof or a base for your feelings, you’re being gaslighted.”

She also suggests that it’s easiest to be gaslit by someone who has power over you or who you trust, meaning that a relationship with a narcissist can be difficult, demeaning and, in extreme cases, dangerous

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It’s ok to distance yourself from narcissistic situations and people

Later in the conversation, Jada reflected on a time where she distanced herself from a friend married to a narcissist. “It was too brutal to watch,” she revealed. ” That’s why it’s so upsetting because, you know, I’ve seen it. It’s awful and it can be so insidious.”

According to Dr. Ramani, narcissism is at the core of every domestically abusive relationship. Responding to Jada, she said: “Instead of asking why she’s not leaving, let’s question his behaviour because that’s the problem.”

Because narcissists will never change

“They’re not gonna change because they don’t think there’s anything wrong with how they’re behaving. There’s no insight,” Dr. Ramani confirms.

When asked if there’s anything victims can do to break that cycle, she offers: “Only on your side of the street. To break through. Only on your side. You’re not gonna change them.”

Even if a narcissist is to have small breakthroughs and change their behaviour, an insecurity will often trigger them to return to their coping mechanism.

There is a lot of unawareness in narcissism though, Dr. Ramani suggests. ” People say, ‘are they rubbing their hands together in a back room saying, All right, I’m going. Ready? I’m gonna go gaslight Jada now?’ They’re not doing that. They’re constantly protecting themselves. Everything they do is self-protection.”

The best way to deal with a narcissist

Dr. Ramani’s top advice is to resist the temptation to rescue a covert narcissist. Whilst you may want to jump into psychiatrist mode with them, it’s important to avoid falling into the trap of rescuing a narcissist.

“You rescue them this one time and then it happens again,” she says, “it’s gonna get you nowhere.”

Watch the Red Table Talk on surviving a narcissist on Facebook Watch below.

If you are worried that you might be the victim of emotional abuse, it’s quite likely that you are. If these signs of an abusive relationship sound all too familiar to you, then get out of that situation as soon as possible.

Visit womensaid.org.uk or call 0808-2000 247 for more information about coercive control, domestic abuse, and the help available for those affected.


Image: Red Table Talk/Facebook