Julia was so glad that her husband phoned. He was away on business. It
was 11pm and she was in bed exhausted. It felt nice that he had thought
to call her. She had been through an unusually difficult day. After a full,
busy, stressful day at work, she rushed home to pick her son up from daycare, got supper ready, sitter arrived and then hurried downtown to her
night course to write the final exam for which she had been studying for
weeks. He talked about his sore squash injured shoulder, at length about
his work, and then about what a brilliant presentation he had delivered
that day and how everyone had congratulated him on it. She wondered
whether he remembered about her exam. The more he went on about
himself, the more deflated she began to feel. She began to realize that he
had not called to ask her about her day at all. As he was ready to end the
conversation, he said: “Can you pick up my shirts from the cleaners, as I
won’t have any time tomorrow.”
–Why Is It Always About You?
We know individuals who are controlling, self-centered, egotistical and incapable of maintaining a peaceful and healthy relationship with the people around them. Such kinds always brag about their problems; about wrongdoing, the world has done to them, and moreover emotionally feeds on other’s misery.
Such individual personality is termed as Narcissism.
Understanding the Mind of the Narcissist
They are everywhere around you. They could be your friends, parents, a boss or maybe your life partner. Such people seem to have a very strong personality but lack lower self-esteem. They may appear superior to you, demanding and challenging outwardly. Emotionally, they may be dead inside, and hungering to be filled and validated by others. It’s obnoxious how such a behavior can affect an individual itself; as well the people around them involved emotionally.
- Become impatient or angry when they don’t receive special treatment
- Have significant interpersonal problems and easily feel slighted
- React with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make themselves appear superior
- Have difficulty regulating emotions and behavior
- Experience major problems dealing with stress and adapting to change
- Feel depressed and moody because they fall short of perfection
- Have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability, and humiliation
- Has a grandiose sense of self-importance and exaggerates achievements and talents.
- Dreams of unlimited power, success, brilliance, beauty or ideal love
- Beliefs he or she is special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions
- Insist on having the best of everything — for instance, the best car or office
People with a good dose of adaptive narcissism can be self-sufficient, able to assume positions of leadership, and self-confident. They seem better able to cope with anxiety, particularly in social situations. A moderate amount of the right kind of narcissism can actually be beneficial to well-being. In fact, researchers have identified the quality of adaptive narcissism.
College students with moderate narcissism scores seem less worried about having their bodies on view when they exercise in a group setting (Akehurst & Thatcher, 2010). Even more, a study of adults carried out in the Netherlands found that individuals from 18 to 78 with higher narcissism scores were more likely to engage in physical activity.
Having the “right degree” of narcissism may also help people attend to what they wear and how they groom themselves and therefore present a more professional image. For better or worse, people seeking jobs or promotions who spend a little more time honing their looks. People high in adaptive narcissism are also more likely to seek those jobs or promotions because their self-confidence leads them to aim high.
How to deal with a Narcissistic Personality?
If there is someone in your life with a narcissistic personality, knowing how to deal with her will make your relationship a whole lot easier. Forget about the normal rules of love or friendship when dealing with a narcissist. Whether it’s a spouse, friend, relative or colleague, the narcissist has the ability to drain your energy, make you doubt your own integrity and zap your self-confidence if you don’t know how to deal with her.
1. Recognize the Narcissistic Personality: The main quality a narcissist lacks is empathy, says Judith Horloff M.D. in “Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life.” A narcissist will struggle to love unconditionally, have limited insight into his actions and feel no regret.
2. Focus on the positive: If you’re in a close relationship with a narcissist, focus on her positive qualities. Horloff warns that getting intimately involved with a narcissist is likely to result in hurt and loneliness because she is simply not capable of genuine intimacy. But if you are already in love with or married to such a person, remind yourself of the reasons you fell for her in the first place. Accept that her narcissistic personality is part of the package and concentrate on her more endearing attributes.
3. Have Real Expectations: It’s necessary to accept that the narcissist in your life has emotional limits. Don’t ask her to be someone she is not or expects her to be a trusted confidante because she won’t put your feelings and sensitivities before her own.
4: Proper Way to Communicate: Forget bending over backward to make a narcissist happy — you’re wasting your time. Having said that, successful communication with this personality type does require some amount of ego massaging. Making demands or displaying anger seldom works. For example, instead of telling your narcissistic partner she needs to go with you to a friend’s party because you don’t want to go alone, say something like “My friend really misses you and would love to see you.” If you’re already in a close relationship with a narcissist, this technique is the best way to get what you want from her.
“The narc has been living in denial of their humanity and normal vulnerable feelings for so long there is an entire life time of unexpressed, repressed emotions rotting in the depths of their psyche. This is why they cannot stand to be alone. In that stillness they start to notice the stink coming up from the basement.”
― Richard Grannon, How to Take Revenge on a Narcissist: Take your power back by using the secret techniques of emotional manipulators – against them
Be better at Narcissism in a productive way.
A little narcissism comes with a host of rewards. Feeling somewhat special and unique helps us persist in the face of failure, enjoy giving and receiving in relationships, and press on in pursuit of our grand dreams. It also helps us feel stronger, more resilient, and perhaps even extends our lives—when we feel great about ourselves, we tend to practice better self-care, too, including exercising more and eating well. Healthy narcissism lowers levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, making us less prone to the ravages of a frenzied life, including high blood pressure and heart disease.
In the end, that’s the greatest benefit of rethinking narcissism: when we recognize and enjoy the gifts of healthy narcissism, we empower ourselves to live happier, healthier, more fulfilling lives.