We often associate the word ‘narcissism’ with a negative connotation and rightly so. The word has come to denote a lot of behavior patterns like inflated ego and self worth, or an extreme desire to be appreciated. But the truth is that not a lot of people are aware of the nuances of the term ‘narcissism’ and yet they continue to pursue it in a very arbitrary fashion.
To resist the same, Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo, A Licensed Practicing Psychologist with a Master’s degree in Physical Therapy and a Ph.D. in Psychology, offers 7 fundamental truths about narcissistic behavior and tendencies that you may not be completely aware about:
1. Narcissists have conditional self-worth
A lot of people assume that narcissists are confident in isolation. This assumption is not even remotely true. In fact, narcissists define their self worth on the basis of the external events that happen around them.
This means that they indulge in comparisons and competitions with people around them. Now, narcissists are different because such comparisons or competitions are not necessitated and yet they embroil themselves in them. This is their way of redefining their “precious” self worth. When this phenomenon becomes vicious, narcissists even indulge in bullying the people around them.
2. A narcissist constantly needs more validation
With self worth comes the idea of validation. It is needless to say that all of us need self worth and validation. But the problem with the narcissist is that they seek validation after validation. This means that a single win is unable to satisfy their hunger for winning all the time and hence they keep seeking ‘another win’ in an infinite loop.
3. A narcissist is motivated by intense fear
Even the narcissist isn’t aware of the fact that their behavior has a cause and that cause is: intense fear. Yes, a narcissist feels an intense, almost gnawing and even nagging fear of not being good enough. This fear is mostly subconscious but in some interactions with narcissists, you would be able to see this fear manifesting itself wide open.
4. A narcissist uses anger to avoid feeling deeper emotions
Anger is the normal response of a narcissist. This means that in any given situation or conversation, a narcissist tends to use anger as a subterfuge to hide other feelings. It is not that the narcissist doesn’t have the acumen to feel other feelings; but it is just that all feelings get translated into anger automatically, almost subconsciously.
5. A narcissist operates from an all-or-nothing perfectionist viewpoint
The narcissist always views problems in terms of black and white. This misguided way of understanding the world makes the narcissist appear like a perfectionist. But in reality, the narcissist lacks the ability to even begin to fathom that a gray area exists; let alone address the gray area.
6. A narcissist has his or her own set of rules
We all follow a certain set of rules. To put it more democratically, we all have our own constitution. Now the difference between a narcissist and other people is that a narcissist has staunch, unchanging rules that aren’t flexible at all. The narcissist wants other people to abide by his/her own rules and nothing else.
7. A narcissist’s behavior has little to do with you
This means that when you are interacting with a narcissist, in reality, you are addressing their ego. Their reaction to what you say is not based on the content of what you said. But it is rather based on how their ego feels at the time of the interaction. Thus, if they go all angry, you have brushed their ego in the wrong way.
It is supremely hard to be around a narcissist but the only sure cure seems to be empathy. Abundant amount of empathy can heal anyone and anyone includes the narcissist as well.