How to Declare Independence From a Narcissist
A template for freeing yourself from destructive narcissistic relationships.
July 4, 2021 — On this day, 245 years ago, American revolutionaries took a bold stand against tyranny from England, then the most powerful nation on earth. They declared:
- All people have rights.
- The British misused their power, violating Americans’ rights.
- And, after unsuccessfully trying to work it out with the British, the Americans chose to sever their relationship and declare themselves free.
The Declaration of Independence was an elegant and ground-breaking document for human rights. Stating their willingness for the world to judge the truth, the Americans asked for nothing, threatened nothing, and declared that they needed nothing.
If you have a destructive narcissist in your life, the ideas and aims of the Declaration of Independence can be a template for how to limit or end contact with someone who is unhealthy for you.
I encourage you to create your declaration of independence. Whether done as an empowering exercise for your eyes only or actually written and sent to a narcissist, you have the right to take a bold step against the tyranny of narcissistic behaviors.
Below is a sample declaration, borrowing from the words of Thomas Jefferson and other drafters of the American declaration of 1776. Adapt this template to your unique situation.
Template for Declaring Independence from a Narcissist
I hold these truths to be self-evident:
Adult relationships are based on mutual consent.
When a relationship becomes destructive, it is up to me to seek change or leave the relationship to achieve health, happiness, and safety.
When it becomes necessary to set boundaries in the course of human events, including limiting or ending contact with those who have not treated me well, it is my absolute right to do so.
My relationship with [insert narcissist’s name here] has included numerous instances of narcissistic behavior that have led to repeated injuries and violations of my rights. These include:
- Failing to treat me fairly and compassionately,
- Badgering me or trying to dissuade me from self-care and personal growth,
- Ridiculing or demeaning me and recruiting others to do so,
- Using intimidation and manipulation,
- Threatening my emotional, financial, or physical well-being,
- Seeking to isolate me from potential friends and allies,
- Making decisions that affect me without my knowledge or consent,
- Hurting me repeatedly without apology or amends,
- Taking resources from me without my permission, and
- Treating me as an enemy or as though I am inferior.
Although I may have tolerated these behaviors, called attention to them, asked for change, and/or sought compromise and communication, none of this has made a difference. This is unjust and unhealthy.
Therefore, I declare myself free and independent from this narcissistic person who seeks to demean, control, or take advantage of me.
I declare that I am fully responsible for my decisions and actions. I further declare that I have the right to:
- Choose with whom I associate,
- Remove myself from efforts to violate, abuse, or take advantage of me,
- Ask questions and voice dissent,
- Feel all my feelings and express them appropriately,
- Live my values, express my thoughts, and pursue my goals,
- Learn, grow, and connect with others,
- Make mistakes, experiment, and be uncertain,
- Pursue happiness, success, and health,
- Love and be loved in a healthy relationship, and
- Trust and earn others’ trust.
If you like, sign your declaration. Use big, bold pen strokes like John Hancock used so the king of England would be sure to see his name.
Of course, declaring independence in and of itself doesn’t make you free.
The American revolutionaries found that out in 1776 when they declared independence but had to fight to secure it.
In declaring your independence from narcissists, you are likely to get push back and be tested or rejected. Freedom isn’t always easy.
But you are not alone. There are far more non-narcissists than narcissists. Seek them out. Cultivate allies. Pursue happiness. Befriend health.
As feminist pioneer Gloria Steinem said, in words no less clear and poignant as the language of the white, privileged men who passed the U. S. Declaration of Independence: “Power can be taken, but not given. The process of the taking is empowerment in itself.”
Take your power back. Celebrate your liberty starting today.
Copyright ©2021 by Dan Neuharth, PhD MFT
A version of this post appeared on PsychCentral.com
Steinem, G. (2019). Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions. (3rd ed.). Picador. https://us.macmillan.com/books/978125020486