Anger is a very powerful emotion. One which society tends to feel is bad and self-indulgent. It has the power to change who we are. It can be self-destructive when no thought is given to the consequences of our actions. Still when used in the right way, it can be helpful to find a solution to a problem or unveil valuable insights. It has the potential to benefit our relationships.
When Narcissists Get Angry
Most of us get angry when we see injustice, neglect or feel attacked by the actions of others. On most occasions we can calm down and talk about the subject that has caused our anger. We can put our point of view across, and find a compromise to avoid the same thing happening again in the future.
Unlike most people, toxic people have an all important egotistical agenda. That means they perceive themselves as superior, perfect, beyond criticism. Woe betide anyone who challenges their behavior. They will live to regret it.
“While helping around my parents house, when my partner would take a break or disagree on the best way to do something, my father would resort to name-calling.”
It is often argued that the toxic ego has its foundations in low self-esteem. The lack of confidence triggers in the toxic person a need to control their whole environment in order to protect their fragile self. Toxic people use rage as a weapon to destroy the person who is identified as a threat.
Becoming a Target
To become a victim of this so-called narcissistic rage, you will have first caused a ‘narcissistic injury’. This is easily done, simply by questioning a toxic person’s decisions, telling them they carry blame for something or just telling the truth! The fact is that anyone who crosses swords with a toxic person will be labeled a threat, and will therefore become a target. The toxic person wants to be admired, needs their sense of self-importance validated. Once any comments are made that oppose this need and believe, war breaks out.
The rage triggered can appear to be mild and non-violent. In my own experiences however, it is not only extremely vocal and vitriolic, but can also lead to physical abuse of a person or object. At the same time I have also experienced the silent treatment many times as a result of offending the toxic person. Although less loud, extreme silent treatment is still an act of rage.
Just after I got engaged, my mother was planning all the things that she could provide for the wedding. Whilst I give her credit for that, the downside was all the verbal lashings she gave about my future in-laws and their meanness. One day whilst speaking to her over the telephone – having gotten totally beaten down by this subject – I asked her to please stop talking badly about them. That brought on two months of the silent treatment. Whilst the silence was much appreciated, it also meant that I could have no contact with my siblings who still lived with her. I dread to think what might have happened if I had been in the same room as her! It was not unheard of to be slapped on the face for such ungratefulness.
The toxic person will often realize that their rage is inappropriate in public. I recall many instances when we were with company or in public. The narcissistic rage could be controlled until we were alone, but it had the effect of brewing like a storm. Her voice would be cruel and quiet until we reached privacy. Then the thunder clouds would gather. She would begin to scream and her words would be like arrows piercing every part of my body and soul.
What she was doing was dumping her toxicity onto me, she would feel fine. At the same time I would be soaking up all the anger and internalizing it. Of course this treatment would be repeated weekly if not more often. A toxic person is after all so frequently and easily injured!
How To Deal With Narcissistic Rage
Narcissistic rage is probably one of the toughest things to deal with in any toxic relationship. Coping with this situations can be very tricky. Unlike most angry people, you will not be able to snap a toxic person out of their rage. So what can you do to stand tall against this storm?
Firstly, realize that this rage can easily spill over into physical violence. If you feel in danger at any time, call emergency services immediately! The particular volatile nature of the narcissistic rage also means that dealing with a situation requires some skill. You need to read the signs carefully when taking action, in order not to further escalate the situation and put yourself in danger.
Meeting the challenge is always a bad idea. Shouting back usually triggers more anger. Besides, do you really want to stoop to their level? Not responding sends a stronger message. It may feel like you are ‘just taking the abuse’, but in fact you are showing the toxic person they’re are not controlling you. Just let it roll over you, and try not to take it in. Be careful though, the lack of response may be frustrating to the toxic person, so read the signs carefully.
Find a safe place in your mind. I know that may sound cheesy, but retreating to a safe place in your mind can help you to not take on the toxicity (as much). It may allow you to disengage from the situation. and therewith the rage that is spilling over you.
When we talk about boundaries we often suggest keeping things public. Like we said, toxic people seldom want to show their rage in public, so meeting with outsiders in earshot will go a long way in preventing an outburst.
Realize that this is their issue, not yours. It can be hard not to feel responsible when triggering narcissistic rage. Was it not you after all that made the remark that set them off? Well, yes. But a healthy person will rarely burst into flame when they are challenged. The fact that a toxic person is unable to deal with any challenge to their self-worth is a reflection on them, not you.
How do you deal with narcissistic rage? Join the discussion.