(Health) There's bound to be at least one in your clan. Here's what you can do to protect yourself:

Resist arguing
To narcissists, everything is a competition, and they're committed to winning at all costs. "Remember that they're usually driven by an unconscious sense of inferiority," says Joseph Burgo, Ph.D., author of The Narcissist You Know. It's best to listen politely, then tactfully excuse yourself.

Play the opposite role
Narcissists love to gossip and put others down. "It's their way of making themselves bigger and better than everyone else," says marriage and family therapist Karly McBride, Ph. D., author of Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers. When that happens, simply pay the target a compliment. You might say, "Oh, she's always been a great friend to me." End scene.

When attacked, try not to react
If your hypercritical aunt nails you with a backhanded compliment or an outright insult, don't get upset. Instead, shrug your shoulders and say, "Interesting." Translation: "I'm not taking the bait."

Set your boundaries
There is one time you should stand up to a narcissist: when you're subjected to a bunch of unsolicited advice about, say, your career, love life, or diet. "Most people feel like this takes their power away, so I don't think you should put up with it," says McBride. Say something like "I understand that's what you'd do, but I have my own way of handling my own life."


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