Observe Don’t Absorb Technique Neutralizes Narcissistic Abuse. Narcissists Can’t Hurt You with ODA

I’ve developed I’ve developed absorb I developed this my own my own need to understand my relationships with narcissists as well as my work with my clients over the last twenty six years it’s influenced by a saying by George Bernard Shaw Shaw and he said never never wrestle with a pig you get dirty and besides the pigs like it and in other words codependents always lose the fight with an emotional manipulator and I help them understand that I help them understand that when they get into the ring or they start wrestling with the proverbial pig they will always find themselves more powerless and disadvantaged because the emotional manipulator thrives on control and power the emotional manipulator wants to pull the codependent into their conflict into their argument because that is where they they know how to change how to influence people and how to get them to back down or give them what they want the codependent has to learn that when they when they are brought into the emotional manipulators world it’s analogous to ingesting toxins because what happens if we should let if we should drink something that is toxic we’re going to get sick so if we look at this and we think that well we are not going to let the emotional manipulator bring us into their world because when we do that we lose our emotional control so I suggest to my clients to think of it as a toxic environment that if you if you get involved then you’ve lost your perspective of self-care codependents are controlled when they are pulled into the EMS emotional altercations the too tough of a moat too tough of adversaries they’re always going to win when the coat when they are pulled into their argumentative aggressive manipulative world so the the observe don’t absorbed technique allows the codependent the main control maintain control and I call it observe don’t absorb as I teach my clients to artificially detach from the client I mean from from the narcissist when they observe the narcissists when they are watching the narcissist when they are watching the alcoholic that are not connecting effectively or emotionally so they are observing but when they absorb that means there they are taking they are participating in this dysfunctional dance of sorts in which they have lost control and they are not that they are not in an environment in which they can defend themselves and set boundaries so essentially it’s conscious or healthy disassociation it’s purposeful emotional detachment it helps neutralize EMS power and control over them so if we use the observe don’t absorb technique we don’t let the emotional manipulator get under our skin we don’t absorb the toxins we don’t get pulled into their emotional world and become a victim of it we understand that to get pulled into it it’s like poison it’s okay to look at poison it’s okay to to pick up the poison bottle but don’t ingest it don’t let it get inside you respect it’s pathological power so this is that this are some of these these are some examples or instructions that I use with my clients who use the observe don’t absorb observe don’t absorb technique first of all I talked about the wrestling with pig saying and usually my codependent clients love that because it really makes sense to them I explained that when they are able to practice observing not absorbing it gives them home-field advantage what I ask them to do is pretend during these interactions with the emotional manipulator so that they’re an observer wearing a white research coat and they’re watching a borderline they’re watching the emotional manipulator and if they can disconnect and see it from an observation point of view they are not emotionally connected I ask them to observe with curious and wonderment I ask them to to watch their emotional manipulator and see how dysfunctional they are how manipulative they are I ask them to think about how incapable the emotional manipulator is to manipulate them if they don’t react watch and listen is the key instruction to my codependent clients and don’t react imagine you are watching an instructional video I ask them to imagine that they’re looking at a video that depicts a narcissist and they watch it and as as they’re watching the video unfold and seeing typical symptoms a narcissistic person I disorder I ask them to pay attention to these strategies the minute manipulative strategies that the emm uses to try to pull them into their own into the fight I asked them to look at the person from head to toe look at them and watch their facial reactions watch their body posture that the more they see them as individuals with psychological problems who are trying to manipulate them the more they can step outside of the reaction to them and just observe them the more power they have I ask them to identify what that person is doing in real time is to actually tell themselves what is he or she trying to do now in order to get a reaction to me and the more that they can answer that question the more they can keep neutral and keep from absorbing the emotional manipulators toxins I I suggest that they say to themselves that they are strong and in control and that they keep saying over and over again like it’s a mantra observe don’t absorb observe don’t absorb because if I absorb I will fall prey and become a victim if I absorb they can control me but if I observe on the control I don’t get upset and my boundaries are solid I also ask them to respond is not to respond emotionally keep their tone even keep their volume even and breathe deeply it’s important that if you’re going to stay detached if you are going to stay relaxed if you’re going to not give the power to the emotional manipulator is to stay into your stay connected to your body to recognize that to let go of this control will bring stress a wave of anxiety to bring the toxin to toxins in to say to yourself help to recognize how powerful detachment is and to and to be proud of how healthy you are to be to acknowledge what you are gaining by staying disconnected so I thank you for coming to this webcast more information can be found on or the human magnet syndrome calm or through my book the human magnet syndrome why we love people hurt us thank you and have a great day you

Michael Martin

100 Responses

  1. we like it because it makes sense…plus, 'pig' can really be a silent , inside joke about the real feelings toward the abuser

  2. This might be the absolute best video there is for how to deal with those idiots. I only wish i had known this YEARS ago

  3. I’ve heard you a couple times mention alcoholics in the same list with NPDs. I feel this was my last relationship I left 5 mos ago.
    Are the two linked very commonly?

  4. but dont you think that allows Narcissist to continue their bullying behavior? from my experience people dont go against bullies because they are afraid of conflict, when someone reacts to the bullying, everyone says, "be the bigger man…" because it is easier to control a rational person than an irrational. what society needs to start doing is to stand up to these types of behaviors more

  5. Thank you so much for this video Ross Rosenberg. It was so hard not to get sucked into their manipulations when we younger, and even sometimes now. This Mantra of Observe don't Absorb is exactly what I need to deal with my now 33 yr old Adult Child who Screams, Yells, and with-holds my Grand Children. I"ve gone no contact with hopes that it will be better for everyone, but after receiving lots of counselling where I kept being told to treat her like a 2 year old, I just couldn't do it. Had I had this Mantra and after listening to your video, I likely would have been able to not absorb. Can't confirm it but we suspect BPD with her.

  6. its why i never get too close to people ross. ive done the wrestling with pigs thing. its like watching them gloat in every conversation..very painful.she actually hd her daughter in law follow me to my therapist office..she asked me why i was there.. took me back a bit followed me even to that office. i honestly dont feel safe around this women .

  7. when I had contact with my narcissistic mother and she would come for a visit. I would let her in and tell her to have a seat in the lounge with my father. I would immediately go into the kitchen, which was close to the lounge and I would turn my favourite radio on softly. I would focus on the music instead of my mother and I would start washing up and focus on that. My parents didnt notice that I was doing this. They would talk to me but I wasnt really focussing on what they were saying. I was focussing on what I was doing and listen to the music. They sometimes would come into the kitchen and talk to me. I could see my mum trying to get a rise out of me by what she said but I only observed what she was doing and was still focussing on what I was doing and the music. When she left I was able to laugh at what she was doing and not be affected by it. I am no contact now and I have lost this skill a little bit and would like to learn it again so I can practice it in other circumstances..

  8. it the fact they want to take physical and mental ownership. i totally understand. if i were in college id do a dissertation on it. ty for ur help.

  9. I am going to try the "don't react" technique next time I see my boyfriend. I am excited to see how it works, but I promise here publicly that I will not tell him or ever disclose to him that I know he is a narcissist! It must be kept secret so I can thrive away from him.

  10. I love it! Say "I am strong and I am in control". It is a definite strength to "not absorb"…before knowing that technique I have tried and crumbled multiple times. Even when it comes to food cravings, I always give in. Same with giving into my boyfriend as well.

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  12. Beautifully articulated! Thank you for this brilliant instruction.This is a powerful practice that totally works for me.I also practice diaphragmatic breathing while I am observing and not absorbing.The deep breath really helps me stay relaxed and grounded and easily detached while observing.

  13. Dr. Rosenberg, what is your research regarding lower IQ’d Narcissists? My ex was functionally illiterate and large words he couldn’t comprehend unless they were used in a sentence. He didn’t learn how to read until after high school when Hooked on Phonics for kids came out. He would claim that the reason he couldn’t read prior to that time was they didn’t teach reading correctly and hadn’t taught phonics in school and truly believed that’s why. I said obviously you had a reading disability if you and only a couple other kids were pulled out of class for reading group. If it was only because they didn’t teach phonics then none of the other kids would’ve learned to read either.” He truly cannot see anyone else’s point of view but his own and I wonder if low intelligence had something to do with his perception of the world. Often he would say and do things that anyone else in society would know better than to say or do as they would cause drama, chaos, hurt feelings, etc. but he never seemed to think ahead of potential consequences of his actions and how they would affect me or someone else. Then when he saw how upset I was after insulting me or throwing another woman in my face or gaslighting me he was furious that I was causing drama! I don’t think he was a narc who got off on negative supply he hated drama and hated seeing me angry with him or upset or scolding him for his behavior he saw me as crazy and blowing things out of proportion but couldn’t see that his actions of hanging out with other women or inviting them over is what hurt me and made me react. I’m just wondering if lower intelligence had more to do with his selfishness and inability to see others point of view and how he hurt others rather than a mental illness personality disorder. The other thing was his recollection of events was always so exaggerated. If I did something once he thought I did it numerous times. If I asked him to come over to help me at 7pm he told everyone I bothered him in the middle of the night to come over. Not sure if he exaggerated stories to make him seem like the victim or if he really believed what he was saying. He fully admits and refers to himself as an asshole and admits this must be why he’s still single or that friends never invite him to do anything. Yet he will still say I don’t know why I’m single what’s wrong with me? He cannot articulate what he does to women that’s so hurtful no matter how many times forwards and backwards I told him. He doesn’t learn from his mistakes or change his behavior that is hurtful. Once I got upset because he was complimenting and putting hearts and wow faces on other women’s photos on social media and only on pretty women’s photos yet completely ignored any of my posts or pictures. When I asked him why he was doing this said he didn’t know why and that he can’t do anything right”. That was his entire explanation instead of using logic and reasoning skills to understand why admiring and lusting after other women when we were in an exclusive relationship would upset me. So he said “Now I’m afraid to like anyone’s photos or say anything”. I said I don’t care if you like someone’s photo it’s the lusting after other women and admiring pretty girls and ignoring me that hurts! He still couldn’t understand and said he wouldn’t care if I was talking to good looking guys on social media and admiring their photos as long as I wasn’t meeting them in person because he felt secure in our relationship (supposedly). Yet got jealous anytime I mentioned an ex or if a guy text me and I told him sorry I’ve got a boyfriend now. The things that made him jealous made no sense to me because I always turned other guys down when they tried to talk to me. Yet for him it was ok to chase other women as long as he didn’t touch them. I really wonder how much of his narcissism was the result of low intelligence rather than trying to be mean or hurt me because he truly hated conflict and drama.

  14. I have actually quoted your comment about the pig to people I know who have been in a similar situation, don't wrestle with it because you are just going to get dirty and I think that's a good analogy, in fact I have used it on my narcastic live support group and Dana Mornigstar once read it out and I felt so pleased to be contributing something very well put, by you.
    I was just thinking that because of the observe don't absorb technique it has helped me get better, so has another narcastic support group from Lisa Monro and she's used, Act don't React and it's very good, I must admit, where you detach emotionally, but the thing is though, because of that I feel I have to be on my guard around my own mother but that equally means I don't have time for her especially on days where I'm feeling sensitive, or a bit emotional because what if I can't help but get sucked in because I'm feeling hormonal or stressed or any contributing factors… Sure, I can do my best to observe but I'm human right? I can't be on form all the time. I'm. Allowed off days right??

  15. Love this video—- reminds me of tactics used when I was a kiddo, to avoid angering my abusive parent--THIS video is better, since it educates on how to observe and not become part of the story,as reporters are trained to do. – stay neutral don't become part of the story.Brilliant video LOVE

  16. This is exactly what I have learned to do with the narcissist in my life. It works like charm. It is almost amusing to watch the narcissist break down into full 2 year old melt down mode!

  17. Thank you Ross…I intuitively did this technique the last time I was in a toxic environment with my cluster b mother and brother..I did remain calm and in my power..it sure did wind them up.. …I couldn't wait to escape. .I am now no contact for my sanity and safety. ..much love xxx

  18. Thanks so much Ross! Your technique finally has arrived Germany. Unfortunately the German therapists are very conservative yet. There is still missing an appropriate "terminology" that could help the victims of narcissistic abuse.

  19. "I learned a long time ago never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it."

    I love that! It's so applicable!

  20. Observing and not reacting is ok if you have to be around them at all. But over time doing this long term takes a real toll on you mentally and emotionally. You are still being abused and put down and the cumulative effect when you finally distance yourself can be devastating to stand back and see what you have been enduring. Don't put yourself through it at all if possible.

  21. Thank you! My wife gets so mad when I’ve intuitively disconnected (without much observation I’m afraid… sometimes totally tuned out and that wasn’t so helpful because return rage builds waiting for the potentially 3-12+ hour/day rant to end) in the past— thanks for confirming and adding clear direction to a better path than being absorbed.

  22. I need a worksheet to walk through scenarios for this type of event happening. Like if this has happened recently and I absorbed. I think that would be so helpful. I do understand the point is that we not absorb. But I have recently absorbed and it ended up causing extreme problems. Now I will observe. But bc I didn't have this help I absorbed and am now required to have a family session with therapist and I'm terrified bc its gonna be manipulated into the hands of my family.

  23. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I will repeat this mantra. My parents are rejecting me because I married a stable, healthy man. They want me to be under their narcissistic control. Many times my mother does smear campaigns and I want so very much to defend myself. But defending myself and my husband only makes me look like the crazy irrational one. I’ll remind myself of this technique. Thank you so much for your advice.

  24. Thank you! Some of the greatest free info out there. I love the "envisioning oneself in a white lab coat" whenever interacting with these people. It really puts everything in proper perspective.

  25. So simple to remember and therefore so tremendously helpful. Thank you Ross. Sure wish I knew this slogan years ago. But heh, I'm alive and grateful ♡

  26. If l do that..👍,I been dirty if I wrestle with a pig…I started to OBSERVE and NOT react at all..,MANY narcs /bordellnes alcoholic,drugadicted,shoplifters,gamblers,thieves..I watch,obaerve and listen..

  27. Ross, as a clinician, how would you advise journalists to deal effectively with politicians who exhibit symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder and/or forms of narcissistic abuse? It seems like you may have helpful insight here.

  28. I absorbed and I was seen as a crazy person who just get angry for no reason. Luckily I love to seen as the crazy person it's my dream role. I fought back and made sure that my truth is heard. When he tried to gaslight me saying "did I said that?" I answer "Yes I'm sure".

  29. Thank you. I needed something to help me detach. My husband is a narcissist. The worst form who is making me physically sick.

  30. I work in an office with a "Debbie Downer" narcissist. She constantly has a negative retort to anything positive you say. After awhile I caught onto her ridiculous chaos making tactics (being oppositional is a crazymaking tactic) and simply stopped talking to her. My days have been much brighter ever since.

  31. I am a scapegoat daughter of narcissistic family… I did the exactly the opposite… I don't know narcissistic abuse… I just I was defending myself….now I'm suffering from the abuse… I aged tremendously within a year ….moved away for 2 years … worst mistake of my life….. circumstances out my control led me back…. they literally suck the life out of my body … I have gray hair and extremely dry skin….aches and pains I didn't have before…how do I regain my strength and vitality…. went No Contact 3 years ago…still recovering…..any suggestions will be greatly appreciated…Be the Light and Expose the darkness…💞💝💕💖💗💖💕💝💞

  32. I started doing this without even knowing this was a thing. My mom would talk to me a lot on why I wasn't good enough. After about half an hour I would blank and all the negative emotions would drop from me. As long as I would nod at the right times she would wear herself out.

  33. Tried it. In my case with my narc…..didn't work. He would start destroying my things things tear up my clothes right in front of me. He was even so mad once that I had bought some coffee he opened the can and dumped it all down the garabage disposal. He was angry because he said I was selfish to buy coffee for me because he didn't like coffee. I had to leave before he destroyed what little I had left. I remember even having to hide cast iron skillets in a closet because he said he was going to throw them out because we didn't have room for them. He still tries to contact me saying how sorry he is and has changed. THEN, of course, he asks for $. When I say no? He goes balastics and shoots me a slew of nasty names. I honestly hate the guy!

  34. My narcissist is living with me. He actually claims that I am the abusive one while he plays little games and whispers under his breath. But when it comes to me out right confronting him he clams up and then gaslights and trys to manipulate me into believing his alternative that he had chosen for me. He lashes out in anger when I hold my ground firmly.

  35. I have been doing this subconsciously. Unfortunately he started telling people that I'm a cold hearted, emotionless b***, that there's something wrong with me. I've been abused emotionally, verbally and physically by my BPD narc husband, and because of this technique and emotional detachment I am the "crazy" one now. He can verbally abuse and in the same sentence say he "loves" me(???). He wants a divorce, but won't let me go and threatens.
    I want my life back!

  36. Bro I fucking own narcissists display their behavior for everyone to see and they scream in rage or bolt out and leave. Fuck them. I can pick them in a first meeting because those fuckers all act the same. After I pick one out I simply wait because they always end up doing some stupid crazy shit and i can go in on them calling out their bullshit

  37. The narc cannot handle this. They literally begin to squirm and get desperate and expose themselves and then find some way to withdraw to recoup because they lose control of the situation.

    It's so heartening to know that I was already resorting this to as a safety mechanism. I didn't realise how powerful this tool was until after I left nor how much it unsettles the narc.

    Thank you so much for your videos. They are incredibly helpful and motivating and give me hope that I can get myself and my life back.

  38. It's not really about 'defending' yourself—- It's more about feeling free to "express" yourself regardless of what is being said to you-either positively or negatively. Regardless of how they are treating you— feeling free to say what you feel needs to be said or done for your own soul's sanity sake.

  39. I worked with a narcissist for a while. They are troublemakers. Always stirring up trouble and always blaming & demonizing others for something or the other. It was exhausting. I used to pray that we as a group could come to work without some sort of drama at least one day but it never happened. When this person was on vacation you could feel the lightness in the air. Finally they quit working in our office. Whew what a relief for everyone. Then 1 week later they started working in another division part time. The person would make it their business to drop by when the boss was not there and TRY to continue the craziness they used to cause when they work there. I dreaded seeing them come in the office..AGAIN. Now I'm retired and feel 25 years younger because I don't have to see or hear this person ever again.

  40. Why is it that the minute people start talking about narcissists, they start blaming the person who is being manipulated by calling them "co-dependent?" My mother was a narcissist so naturally I was dependent because I was a child. Surviving her mental illness was nearly impossible. I was not codependent, I was an emotional acrobat, bobbing and weaving to avoid being destroyed.


  42. Good stuff. Perhaps an honest solution, for those of us trying to raise children with a crazy person. How strong can one person be though? We all have breaking point but i suppose practice make perfect.

  43. This is wonderful. For me, though, I need a positive action framing for “don’t absorb” such as “absorb myself instead.” To quote Marshall Rosenberg: “how do you do a ‘don’t’?”

  44. I recnetly discovered this video, and used the technique on the raging narc in y life. It worked; the person gave up after failing to rile me, and all is calm again until the person's next attempt. But now i am strong, and in control. I observe, not absorb. Thank you Ron.

  45. Yeah my narc yelled at me and called me names because I don't agree with the prayer that he was doing and then in the prairie with silence so he was saying his own silent prayer mixed in with our prayer. I said to him that I will not agree to this the prayers need to be spoken out loud because in my mind I don't trust him not even with prayer.
    I'm done with the narc.

  46. Mr. Rosenberg,
    Is the percentage of Narcissistic personality traits high?
    Lately, I see and hear the word Narcissism everywhere, almost as if certain population is better than others. I hear so many people's stories, victims, survivors. I cannot understand how some people call themselves narcissist with such a pride, when these characteristics
    are selfish and cruel to others. Nothing o be proud and boast about, however real narcissists would never say their faults.
    Is this population growing?
    Are narcissists depressed?
    Thank you,

  47. Your technique is cognitive based and DO NOT work. The person being abused by a narcissist is in chronic fight, flight or freeze mode. You can't "observe" your way out of a body response! It is clear that you yourself have never been in a situation with a narcissist.

  48. Ohmigoodness, I started doing this naturally after seeing brain scans of narcissists. I literally observe them as if I’m in a lab 🤣😂🤣 I keep picturing the brain scans and how half their brains are missing. It really does help because you understand at that point that “they just don’t get it.” They can’t and never will. Unless their brains can be stimulated somehow🧐I work with a bunch of them and this has been a great technique.

  49. I wouldn't believe they are real if I hadn't looked at my ex and seen him smile after he cheated. This disorder is real

  50. Got hardly no friends and seem to be not allowed to have any friends with any connections to any of them but narcissist find way to contact all my contacts I'm disabled in rural town in same naghborhood narcissist is SIS never have I seen anyone have so much control over so many

  51. Wow…my autism really isn’t this bad. My PTSD really isn’t this bad. I really am innocent and I was telling the truth through all of it.
    Thank God I’m free, seriously.
    They basically watched me die, and had the audacity to ask me what was wrong.
    After 24 years I’ve finally cut off my emotionally, financially, religiously abusive mother, and the passive aggressive narcissistic sociopathic younger sibling she enabled and mobbed with.

    The brainwashing is finally over.

    I wake up and put on my lab coat to observe. Until I can actually leave here soon…

    Thank you for all you do

    I really don’t hate myself. I really don’t want to die anymore. My depression is literally leaving me !!!!!!!!!!!!

  52. He be on go with me he ready starts out like, " huh what you just say"!!! I rather sit in my car so i dont have to upset no one by my presence!

  53. Omg why have I been in therapy costing so much money and no therapist has ever said this or even gave me a strategy so well developed. I will practice.

  54. it's true what joanna Kujath said that it's about energy, to hold onto your energies like protecting boundaries. This is where you can defend yourself you can at least maintain your power and control to yourself, also it creates self-knowledge, less expectations. but this is only a technique in survival mode because you cannot live and grow with a toxic person. Because they have chosen you as their victim, and they are relentless, push-pull cycle(narc unscripted)you cannot, but only defend and make a strategic exit to escape and stay away from them. I experienced narcissistic abuse and toxic shame from my mother and scapegoating. I only realized when i searched them, Joanna Kujath, Lisa a romano, narc unscripted and Michelle lee nieves, Daylight out of darkness, Patrick Teahan(was i abused?)and also here. Now, i am thinking how can i survive to escape here, because they programmed you said Joanna and Lisa and also the other two. And now i fully understand that i am really a victim. I have also ailments on my shoulder and lump in my tendons on my feet. So many i've gone through and yet i am still here with toxic people that will and cannot change except you are only their prey their supply, if not physical or financial can be emotional or exploitation.

  55. when they are freaking out look at them and laugh internally and say to yourself how stupid they look and how insane they sound, it will really help decrease your stress, let them berate and let their ridiculous arguments bounce off of your armour

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