My Struggle with Narcissistic Bullies

Duncan Riach, Ph.D.
Jan 9, 2019 · 3 min read

I don’t know why, but I seem to regularly get pulled into interactions with narcissistic bullies. They come into my world and they seem to try to invalidate my experience. Most recently, there’s a person who has been haphazardly trolling some of my articles. I write “person” only because I have no idea of the gender of this coward. He or she hides behind a spiritual-bypass pseudonym.

If you read my stuff, you’ll know that I’m continually trying to discover and reveal what’s true for me as accurately and as vulnerably as possible. I’ve written recently about projective identification and how I tend to take on the projections of narcissists in a kind of inverse narcissism.

I seem to have such a compulsion to engage with these fools. It’s clear that they’re simply projecting their own stuff onto me rather than taking it to their therapist. I engage with it and it distracts me from doing what I love, which is writing about and sharing my experience.

Here’s an example of how I end up wasting energy on these fools:

If me writing about my life is selling, then I’ll keep on selling, thank you very much. It’s spiritual bypassing to claim that there is something wrong with selling or something wrong with suffering. There’s nothing wrong with any of it, even the spiritual bypassing. It’s totally fine for you to set yourself up as some kind of wise guru who can lead people to some kind of realization. Have at it. It’s just another flavor of suffering.

You can hang out in my “ashram” all you like, and you can try to shout down my “teachings” all you want, but it only makes you appear to my followers like an arrogant fool. People follow me because I’m not like you. I share from the heart. I share my struggle. I’m willing to expose my truth vulnerably. I sit on the floor with them. I’m not a spiritual teacher.

It doesn’t make you look strong to bully. It makes you look like a pussy. You’re welcome to bully all you like; you’re just exposing yourself to be a pussy, again and again. When you grow up and drop the teacher defense, when you are able to surrender as a child, perhaps you’ll decide to start sharing vulnerably, and then perhaps you’ll get some real followers.

If I could choose anything, it would be to be able to confidently ignore these trolls and continue calmly with what I am doing. I want to be able to see them clearly for what they are, to trust my clear intuition about them from early on; the red flags are usually there from the beginning.

I get into these conversations by giving them the benefit of the doubt, by assuming that they’re interested in what I have to offer, or by assuming that they want to have a real discussion between two equals. Invariably, after a while the conversation transforms into an attempt to teach me something, or to change me, or to convert me, or to get me to write articles that they agree with.

I’m not here to write articles that some arrogant, self-proclaimed spiritual teacher thinks I should write. They’re welcome to write those articles themselves. They should go write a bestseller. Why bother me with that nonsense? It’s simply impossible to persuade me that those delusions are based in reality.

So what’s my best advice to myself?

As soon as you see a red flag, stop interacting with the person. You know it won’t lead anywhere productive. You know they will only take advantage of your openness to keep advancing their agenda over your personal space. So just don’t respond.

Notice the feeling of wanting to respond. Notice the compulsion and just allow it to be there. It doesn’t need to be fixed or removed by taking action, by responding. The compulsion is just a set of sensations.

And if you do respond, notice that there was nothing else you could have done, and that you don’t need to judge yourself harshly for doing it. But if you do find yourself judging yourself harshly, notice that that is all that could have happened.

Since it’s being chosen so calmly, you might find that you just calmly keep choosing not to engage with these trolls. Fingers crossed.

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