Fuel is the lifeblood of our kind. Some refer to it as narcissistic supply (far too long and does not convey what is does for us) or the ghastly “supply” (admittedly shorter but inaccurate). Fuel is any emotional response to something we have said, done or caused. In order to understand in detail what it is, how it originates and your role in this you should read Fuel : What Makes the Narcissist Function
In fact, that book is a must read in order to understand fuel and to enable you to achieve your freedom from the narcissist. Fuel is behind everything that we do.
If we cannot obtain fuel from an appliance then that will force us to seek fuel elsewhere. Sometimes it causes an immediate withdrawal and sometimes it will take time for this retreat to occur, but it will happen.
If the provision of fuel is very low, infrequent and/or acquiring it proves particularly difficult, this will also result in the narcissist ultimately selecting alternative appliances for the provision of his or her fuel needs.
Accordingly, cutting off the provision of fuel is a key component of achieving your freedom from us. The most obvious route to doing this is by implementing a robust no contact regime. If we cannot interact with you in any way whatsoever, we cannot obtain any fuel from you and this lack of fuel acts to assist in keeping the Hoover Bar high and thus the risk of future hoovers low. Striving for a total no contact has to always be your aim.
However, what of those situations where total no contact has not been achieved or maintained? What about those situations where there is interaction between you and the narcissist, how do you manage those situations so you provide the least fuel? First of all you should understand that what follows in this article should not be regarded as an alternative to no contact. You cannot opt for this approach. Do not think that you can choose between total no contact and an alternative which is less than no contact – if you do, failure awaits. The purpose of this article is to cover two situations where total no contact has not arisen :-
- The Ambush. You may have moved house, blocked numbers, changed numbers, moved jobs, jettisoned certain risky social groups and put in place various measures which has resulted in a solid no contact. Even then, you may just happen to bump into the narcissist walking down the street, at an event or possibly somewhere you did not expect to. Other than live as a hermit in a cave in the mountains, you cannot legislate for this as part of your no contact regime and you have been unfortunate to be ambushed in this manner. The narcissist may have planned to do this or it may just be coincidence, but either way, you have a face to face meeting with the narcissist; and/or
- Legitimate Exceptions to Total No Contact. Let me make this clear, these are very few and far between indeed. This is not keeping the narcissist’s number in your ‘phone and not blocking that number in case there is an emergency – that is not a legitimate exception. This is not attending the same gym, at the same time and days that you know the narcissist will be there – you can make changes to bolster your no contact regime in that regard. Legitimate Exceptions would include remaining in a job where the narcissist also works pending your departure to a new job or a transfer to another site. It could be argued that you could just leave the job immediately to achieve no contact and yes, that is an option and one which should be considered where you are serious about achieving a robust no contact, but if there is no immediate job to go to, you do not have savings and you have a notice period to abide by, then you will have to remain in a situation where there is a risk of contact. Legitimate Exceptions would also cover co-parenting with a narcissist where there is a court order compelling that co-parenting takes place. Legitimate Exceptions covers attending court where the narcissist will also be there. Remember, even with the Legitimate Exceptions this does not give you a pass to engage freely with the narcissist, indeed there are still many things you can do which means you can still maintain total no contact or a high level of no contact, but those are matters for separate discussion. This article addresses those very few situations where contact arises with the narcissist so that you give no or very little fuel.
I shall reinforce that you CANNOT use this article in order to repeatedly engage with us and think you can do so in a manner which will not have an adverse effect on you. If you keep engaging with the narcissist, your emotional thinking will surge and increase and you WILL end up losing insight and resistance. You need to recognise and understand this and see The Golden Rules of Freedom – No. 4
It is important that you understand that the most dangerous interaction with us, is any direct physical interaction with us. Why is this?
- The largest amount of fuel you provide to us comes from direct physical interaction. This is because the words you use, the tone of those words, your body language, your facial expression and the look in your eyes all combine to provide us with very large quantities of fuel. Therefore, wherever possible we want to achieve an interaction with you in person.
- You are far easier to manipulate in person because your own emotional thinking surges owing to our close proximity which then weakens and removes your resistance to us far faster. It is easier to ignore an e-mail from us but far harder when we look at you, give you that winning smile that makes you melt as our familiar scent washes over you. You may think you can resist it (and some might for a time) but I have seen many fall when there is physical interaction with us.
- Your politeness and decency mean you may well struggle to ignore us when there is direct physical interaction. Your emotional thinking will cause you to say hello and at least be polite and then the salami-slicing begins as we draw you in once again.
- No matter how disciplined you think you can be in our presence, you may be able to keep your tone level but your immediate emotional responses (facial expressions, the look in your eyes, body language etc.) provide fuel and are virtually impossible for you to stop. You will also struggle to keep your tone level when you speak to us for much more than a couple of minutes. Accordingly, you are always going to give us some fuel when we see you in person. This underlines the need to avoid direct physical contact with us as a priority.
So, how do you reduce the fuel that you give to the narcissist?
- Apply no contact and make it total. Maintain it at a robust level.
- If there has to be direct physical contact with the narcissist then look to reduce the number of occasions when this can happen to the absolute minimum. Do you need to attend that Parent Teacher evening at the same time or can you organise a separate appointment? Can you stand on the opposite touchline to watch your child play sport? Do you really have to attend that meeting where the narcissist will be – can you avoid it, send someone else, provide input in writing or listen in and contribute via a telephone conference call? Can you be seated on a different table to the narcissist at the event? Can you alter your attendance at the staff canteen so you do not go when you know the narcissist is there? Yes, you may resent having to make these adjustments but they are worth doing so in order to minimise the risk of providing fuel and keeping the narcissist’s interest in you at a heightened level. Remember, we want direct physical contact for the reasons set out above.
- If direct physical contact occurs by ambush, apply GOSO and get out and stay out. Walk away from us and say nothing. Do not look upset, frightened or worried. Many people think that if you walk away from us then we think we have ‘won’. Yes, we will tell people that (‘I saw Anne yesterday but she just scurried away from me like a frightened mouse’) but that is just for the façade. If you ignore us and do so without reaction (save walking away) then this wounds us massively and we hate it. Accordingly, should you bump into us somewhere, then your priority is to get away from us. Just walk off, make an excuse about being somewhere if you really need to say something, pretend to need the bathroom, pretend to take a call – whatever it takes so you can get out.
- If you really, really cannot get away immediately then you should do so at the earliest point. In the meanwhile talk to other people and not us (this will also wound) where this is possible. If you have to talk to us, keep your tone neutral, avoid eye contact, talk about neutral topics or topics which do not give much away about you (remember we will be looking for fuel but also information about you which we can use). Accordingly, talk about travel, the journey to wherever it is you are, the pop star whose concert it is, something you have done recently which you do not mind revealing to the narcissist and will not be used against you. Do not ask the narcissist how he or she is. If they want to talk, let them and look unfazed. The more they talk, the more you can concentrate on zoning out and not providing reactions, whilst planning your departure from the vicinity of the narcissist.
- Avoid expansive and sweeping gestures, pointing, gesticulating, fist-waving, holding your hands-up etc – this all provides fuel. Either hold your hands together behind your back, or place them in your pockets, hold your bag or place them flat on the table and keep your hands in that position. Have something to hold or touch and tell yourself you need to keep hold of that position or item until you are away from the narcissist.
- Resist all attempts to attack us in some way. Whilst you may be dying to tell us what a bastard we have been or to put us straight on one or twenty things, you will only end up losing your discipline and giving us fuel.
- If the narcissist has telephoned you and caught you out, put the phone down straight away. Do not tell us to go away, do not ask questions, end the call straight away.
- Where there has to be some form of communication with the narcissist, either convey it through a third party – thus this removes the fuel almost entirely (because they are the words of the third party and not you (unless the third party makes reference to you – which they should avoid)) or do so in writing. Writing should be the only method of communication where there absolutely has to be such communication – for example with regard to parenting arrangements. By placing the communication in writing you achieve the following
- You give yourself time to ‘weed out’ emotive language and thus fuel – speaking does not give you this edit function, nor does being in our presence;
- You have a written evidential record which may prove to be useful at a future point
- You will be briefer
- If you do provide fuel you will only provide a small amount as the written word provides us with the lowest amount of fuel that can be provided compared to other methods of communication.
Thus, aim for no interaction with us. If there is an ambush interaction, get away as quickly as you can and if you cannot, govern your responses as described above until you can make your getaway. For other interactions, reduce physical ones to the lowest possible level and use written communications instead. By doing this, you will reduce your fuel output, raise the Hoover Bar and starve us of what we want from you.