How they hypnotize
Narcissists have one main technique for putting you into a trance: they take over. They draw you into listening to them as they talk about themselves or about some other thing as it relates to them.
Narcissists are good at being the center of attention, and since this often makes them interesting, clever, quick and witty they will be able to command your full attention. They pull you into their orbit by getting you to focus on them. You start to feel pleasantly passive and entertained.
In this state you are lulled into giving up all subjectivity. You find yourself agreeing with them, taking their lead. You want them to like you.
The result is that unlike compulsive seducers, narcissists don’t try to make you feel loved. They make you feel that life is good because you are their best and biggest fan.
You have given up your independent will and become their audience. You are hypnotized.
Because hypnotism has great powers to persuade, you may end up wanting to prolong the feeling of being in the narcissist’s orbit. You will be persuaded to feel that you want to befriend them, that you want to be like them, and want to help them. You want this because….well you just do.
If you relate regularly to such a person you will enter into their world on their terms. You will end interpreting things in terms of what they would say or do.
But life in this world is a one way street. You are the audience and they are the star. In their world what matters is “looking marvelous” and never feeling that anyone is superior to you. The charm of their world makes everything else ordinary.
Breaking the spell
Breaking the spell is hard. You care a great deal about what the narcissist thinks of you. And since you have given up your independent sense of self around them you feel like it would be very hard to decide to look at things critically. If you work for such a person you have an even greater need to maintain the status quo.
If you are a child growing up with narcissistic parents this process of breaking the spell is virtually impossible.
Here are some things to focus on that will help you identify your trance state and in so doing, change it.
- If you have just met a narcissist and fallen under their spell you may leave the encounter feeling excited about getting closer to them. But after you have been away from them for a while the trance state weakens. Soon you may notice that your liking for them was out of proportion. Your sense of self will gradually be restored as you get further away. This is a chance to use your critical faculties to understand what has happened.
- You can never be in the spotlight when you are around a narcissist. Even when they appear to be focused on you it is really about them. But sometimes we all need to take center stage in a conversation or at a in a meeting. If you try, it will always feel awkward, like it somehow doesn’t come off right. You will begin to feel thwarted and frustrated. You may even feel some self criticism or despondency. Listen to this feeling.
- If you are in a relationship with a narcissist you will sooner or later begin to feel that you are never getting listened to and that there is never any real connection or easy exchange of ideas. One way you may notice this is that you will have to go outside your relationship to have a real conversation. When you call that other friend you can begin to see that your real relationship is with that friend, not with the narcissist. You have broken the spell.