Many people understand a narcissist to be someone who is:
- All about themselves
- Will do anything to benefit themselves, even if it endangers or harms another
But very few understand the extent that a narcissist is willing to go to achieve their goals. And whereas many people suspect a narcissist goals are primarily financial or occupational, and therefore the co-workers would be the most likely victims, this isn’t always the case. A narcissist may simply want control. This control can be over a friend, spouse, child, sibling, or other relative. In some cases, more than one. In almost every case, the victim(s) are unaware of what’s going on and are completely helpless.
What Is A Narcissist?
People with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) have an exaggerated sense of their own self-importance and a distorted view of their own abilities. They see themselves as masterful beings accomplishing amazing things, and any evidence that contradicts this self-perception is rejected or ignored.
Because they lack empathy, they can’t imagine what it would be like to walk in another’s shoes. They don’t understand how or why their words and actions affect others. If you try pointing it out, they will reject and deny it.
Despite a narcissists public showing of arrogance and confidence, they are actually thin-skinned and full of self-doubt. It’s this self-doubt that causes their need to be reassured quite often from others.
Due to their beliefs of their own greatness and self-devotion, the psychological symptoms include:
- Exaggerated feelings of self-importance
- A sense of entitlement, disconnected from any actual deeds
- Feeling superior to other people
- Preoccupation with fantasies of wealth, power, fame, and public praise
- Prioritizing competition over cooperation
- Cynical attitudes toward those who act unselfishly or express idealistic beliefs
- A lack of empathy and understanding of others’ motives
- Inability to see their own flaws or admit when they are wrong
- A belief that their interests are more important than the interests of other people
- A habit of dividing the world into winners and losers
The emotional symptoms of NPD include:
- A need for constant attention and flattery
- Frequent feelings of envy and resentment
- Impatience and a quick temper
- Extreme sensitivity to criticism
- Inability to adapt to change without feeling rage or frustration
- Unacknowledged feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability
- Moodiness, often accompanied by signs of depression
- Deep fear of being helpless or powerless
- An obsessive desire for revenge against anyone perceived as an enemy
In their social interactions, people with narcissistic personality disorder will:
- Brag and boast (and sometimes lie) about their accomplishments
- Go out of their way to avoid associating with anyone they consider beneath them
- Dominate conversations by interrupting constantly and refusing to let others choose the topics for discussion
- Insult or demean other people as a way to make themselves look better
- Flatter those who flatter them, and criticize or denigrate those who criticize them
- React with indignation and offense when humorous remarks are directed their way, or if they are the subject of teasing
NPD may be caused by genetics or poor parenting. Parents who are too authoritarian, too permissive, or abusive (ex: physical or sexual) could wind up with children who develop NPD.
Many are initially attracted to the narcissist because of their confidence. They initially seem like someone you want to be around. They appear positive and have a “nothing will get in my attitude”. But as you get to know them, you begin to despise them for these very same traits. You’re only role is to prop them up with nothing in return.
You aren’t recognized in a relationship with a narcissist. They only allow you to hang around them to admire them and prop up their ego. You’re feelings don’t matter to the narcissist.
If you notice the narcissist is lying, manipulating, and disrespecting others, they may be doing the same to you. If they aren’t at the moment, they soon will be. You’re not special or different to the narcissist. They will use whoever they need to in order to get what they want.
They don’t see you. They don’t hear you. They don’t recognize you as someone who exists outside of their own needs. Because of this, narcissists regularly violate the boundaries of others. What’s more, they do so with an absolute sense of entitlement.
Narcissists think nothing of going through or borrowing your possessions without asking, snooping through your mail and personal correspondence, eavesdropping on conversations, barging in without an invitation, stealing your ideas, and giving you unwanted opinions and advice. They may even tell you what to think and feel. It’s important to recognize these violations for what they are, so you can begin to create healthier boundaries where your needs are respected.
If you find yourself questioning your own sanity, blaming yourself for things (including upsetting the narcissist), isolate yourself from friends and family, there is a chance you are a victim of narcissistic abuse.
The easiest way to break free of this abuse is to leave. Cut all ties, and therefore power the narcissist has over you. If your relationship with the narcissist is important to you, you will want to handle it carefully. Calmly explain to them how they make you feel, but don’t mention any of the symptoms. If they respond angrily, remain calm and walk away if needed. Try again at a later time.
Be prepared to stick to your boundaries you set. The narcissist will rebel against these new boundaries and try harder to keep control. They’re going to be upset and feel challenged at you taking control of your life and setting rules in the relationship. It’s important you stick to the boundaries you set and not give in. If you give in, you will only be amplifying their belief you are weak; and it will make it harder to break free. Backing down sends the message you don’t need to be taken seriously.
Be prepared for retaliation. They may make increased demands in other areas of the relationship or distance themselves from you as a form of punishment or manipulate you to give up the new boundaries. You need to stand firm.
Don’t accept who they say you are. Narcissists don’t live in reality. They will portray people as more negative and weaker than they truly are. Don’t take it personally, and don’t allow their views to take over who you are. Their negativity is theirs to keep.
Breaking free of narcissistic abuse is hard, especially if you want to keep the relationship. But it is vital to your own mental health to free yourself of the abuse. Long-term victims often develop PTSD or what’s called narcissistic abuse syndrome. It’s important you realize who you are, and that you aren’t what the narcissist says you are.
NPD is a mental illness that can be treated. If the narcissist is willing to go along with the treatment, they will begin to see what they’ve been doing and learn coping skills. You will only convince them to at least talk to someone by standing firm on your boundaries and taking control of you away from them.
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