Life of a Narcissist: Grandiosity or self inflation?
Narcissism is mainly defined as an inflated sense of self-esteem which can be understood in simple terms as somebody being deprived of love and affection in their childhood home environment which led them to low self-esteem and lack of empathy. Later on in their lives to compensate the lost adaptive skills, they confabulate the self and become a narcissist.
According to Kohut, a child’s development is highly dependent on the parent's love and mature interactions with their primary caregivers. There have been speculations about primary and secondary narcissism as the former being drawn intrinsically and latter being perceived as the libidinal energies being perceived from outside.
Origin-The word narcissism has been taken from a mythological figure narcissus who fell in love with his own reflection.
Some of the psychoanalysis reason it as disturbances in the early childhood home environment. Freud reasoned the admiration one has occupied about oneself in the light of them perceiving oneself as an object of sexual desire. As mental health professionals, people often ask whether narcissists are good people or bad people but it would be unfair to classify humans in categories as they are complex in that nature.
Narcissistic thoughts are excessive attention and admiration to oneself, paucity of empathy and enmeshed relationships. They have had trouble making or maintaining relationships. By doing what they do, they victimize the people around them and only then you realize the toxicity.
Do you wish to change?
All of this can change if you want to put a full stop to it. It is always very important to choose what you want to change and if you want do it all. We all have people to give us different views and perspectives. To start with, you have to choose something that you wish to revamp and care about immensely. It has to be the behavior which has impacted your life in a negative way as that will increase your motivation to change.
How do narcissists perceive themselves?
- Without me everyone in the group would flounder.
- People should accept me and understand me, I have nothing to apologize for.
- I love myself and I know others do too.
- I deserve loyalty from others no matter what is given to them in reciprocation.
- I may seem to be arrogant but I don’t care because I want things to be done my way as that’s the best way.
- Criticism is one directional and should always be accepted by others.
What you can do?
Always identify the precipitating factors which lead you to behave in a certain way. It often happens that for a narcissist, a triggering event causes them to react impulsively and they regret later. Focus on the event and try to pen down the antecedent before the behavior occurred.
Situation: He shouted at his friend because he had to wait for some time for them to arrive and then landed in a verbal argument.
1) Triggering events:
- He had to wait for some time outside.
- He was confused about what to decide – should I leave or stay?
- He felt ignored as he was not able to reach out to that person.
Tips: Always have a diary in your hand to pen down the events causing you to behave in a certain way and try to be more aware of the situations and people being the source of the action.
2) Count on your successes till now.
- This can take time so be a little patient and be kind to yourself.
- Everybody has done mistakes but there are as equal success stories to tell to people and learn from mistakes to not repeat them.
3) Delay the behaviors that you wish to change
Our brain has been wired in such a way that for a really long time we have been reacting in a certain way that is built in our system and automatically gets that response. So to change that the best way to handle this is delaying that time a little.
Situation: You wanted to go somewhere and had a planned itinerary in your head but there is a sudden change in your plan which upsets you.
Try to visualize different scenarios in your mind that you wish you had done. Imagining that you react in a certain way in a situation and then thinking about your ideal response and reiterating that again and again in your mind that you start believing it to be your new normal. Always having a mentor guiding you through that path can be supportive and then eventually there comes a time that through that guidance and practice you individually have started taking actions accordingly to the idealistic view.
Tips: Take deep breaths while inhaling counting to 5 and while exhaling counting to 5. Deep breathing will help during the course of the time and also has immediate effects to vent out the tension.
Think of the last time when you were in this kind of situation and you wanted to change that behavior. Initially this might seem to be too taxing to even think before you ever want to do something behaviorally.
4) Knowing the difference between reacting and responding.
React will have side effects and regrets for you to later ponder upon. But responding always involves the use of cognitions before acting upon them.
5) Get a replacement of the behaviors that you want.
The behaviors known by you that can be devastating for you. Substituting those behaviors with more adaptive ones can be very difficult but fruitful in the long run.
6) Imagine your ideal reaction.
Always remember the self-centered thoughts' repercussions and sticking on the decision to idealize the response.
7) Demolishing all-or-none principle/black-white thinking
Thinking about the situation in either white or black can be catastrophizing. Viewing the world from the eyes of the two options where there are many.
When to diagnose and what is the difference between pathological narcissism and normal narcissism?
Narcissistic personality disorder can be diagnosed on terms like: First of all, to begin, any disorder is diagnosed on the basis of daily functioning being hampered of an individual and here in this case, a pathological narcissist will always lack empathy. It is always fueled by grandiosity and exacerbated by attention-seeking behavior.
Sometimes we think that narcissists know that they are narcissists or they are avoiding confronting their own emotions.
People with this kind of personality don’t generally know that they are this specific kind which is creating a toxic environment for others to work. Literature shows the benefits of being a narcissist sometimes help you in achieving higher in your life and increase mental strength and courageous behavior.
It’s not rather easy to deal with a narcissist as their modus operandi is completely different when it comes to functionalities and leadership but some tips on how to handle or deal with someone who has these traits to be prepared for:
- Never lose yourself and be firm in your decision-making. Doubting can come as a part of the process of them guiding by making others inferior with feelings of confusion.
- Always acknowledging the frustration, this is where the role of empathy comes, in which they lack.
- Focusing on the sense of purpose becomes vital, considering the downward distractions.
- Knowing where the behavior comes from and rationalizing it.
The social side of the narcissist life
A narcissist's social life craves for admiration and praise and since their personalities are charming, people tend to fall for the charismatic leader as they are initially and that eventually sets stage for a romantic relationship. They make very good first impressions because their sense of self-esteem is high and that becomes a magnet for others to be dragged by their charm. The motto is to enjoy the uncommitted intimacy and pleasure for avoiding any restricted functional work for them. Sometimes it is also connoted with selfishness as we need to understand if they are episodically self-centered or they have been lacking empathy.
They feed on to the positive attention given to them by their partner and the sexual satisfaction to strengthen and reinforce their ego and self-esteem. However, maintaining that becomes quite a task for the second partner as they are made to feel inferior with zero zone of acceptance. Therefore, trust building is quite difficult in the process and maintaining the love for them. These kinds of partners always command the directives to follow for their partner and eventually this leads to a road where they become isolated with their family and friends. There are motivational, mental, emotional repercussions for the person bearing the psychological baggage and it is obvious that it is exhausting. The trauma of the toxic mental fatigue can be long lasting and can leave a scar for quite long for a person who is sensitive and altruistic. Being aware of the people around becomes crucial as you never know people are feeding on to your positive energies and the love.