Dealing with Narcissists: The Circle of Control

I am not sure who the author of the leadership tool “Circle of Control” actually is so that I can give credit to them.  For this, I apologize.  It is, however, a great tool for life, not just for work and leading others.

The essence of the “Circle of Control” is that it is a target, with a small circle in the middle, and larger circles around it.  The small circle of control, the bullseye in the middle, represents what we are able to directly impact in our lives with our own talent, time, resources, actions.  The next larger circle is the “Circle of Influence”.  It is the area that each of us is able to impact through our own Circle of Control actions but also through others and through others resources.  The last circle around the outside edge brings us farther away from what we can control.  I’ve seen this called the “Circle of Concern” and represent the things in our life that concern us.

The reason I am bringing this up in dealing with a narcissist is that there are certain things we can control and certain things we really can’t.  The best thing we can do is to focus on the things we can do, and if we use our energy in that space – that’s ultimately how we can make a difference.

So, where can I focus my energy to make the most difference in my life when there is a narcissist in it?  My personal belief is that I can focus my energy most on ME.  This is how I can make the most difference to the situation for both me and my kids.   I can focus on:

– becoming as emotionally healthy as possible

– being the best parent I can be for my children (including understanding what they need from me)

– creating the life that I want, instead of dwelling over that which is in my life that I don’t want

This is why I have, for the past couple years, turned my focus inwards.  I’m not perfect at this yet, that’s for sure.  However, I think about what it is that I do that drives my life to be what it is, and what can I do to make it better.  Why did I get into this situation to begin with?  What life lesson did I need to learn? Did I learn it, and can I let it go and move on so that I don’t do it again?

The narcissistic ex in my life falls predominantly in the outer circle – that which I really don’t have any control over.  I may have some influence on him by working with therapists who can make suggestions to him not to curse at our young children, or I may have some influence with the judge when asking for help in finding a better situation so my kids can know their dad but in a protected way.  BUT, I cannot, and will not, ever be able to change the narcissist himself.  That part is his journey in life… not mine.

So for today… I will focus on my Circle of Control and creating & living the life that I want.


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