At the beginning of this year, my neighbor and I started a podcast called TEA of Life Podcast. This is something that we had been wanting to do for a while and had been talking about quite a bit, so we decided to take the plunge; jump in with both feet and just do it. Since then, it has been a fun and exciting ride. We never realized how much work goes into making a podcast, but with a little (ok, a lot) adjustment to our schedules and then, ultimately, our attitudes (which we never saw coming), we are growing fast, and every episode we release is our absolute favorite.
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Week, we released episode #25 of our podcast, and we talked about narcissism. Narcissism is a personality disorder that is documented to affect only about 6% of our population; however, once you read some of the traits listed below of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), you will immediately realize that the actual percentage is much higher than documented. This reason is that, in order to have a narcissist diagnosed with NPD, you have to first convince them that something is actually wrong with them, and this is near impossible, as narcissists tend to believe that the problems are with everyone else. Once you realize what true narcissism is, you will realize that there are more people who acquire this than actually documented.
In this article, I have put together traits that narcissists tend to have. From what I have gathered and have personally experienced, in order to be considered a narcissist, one does not have to acquire all of the traits listed, but they will own at least half or most of them. At some point in our lives, we may have the rare opportunity of knowing someone who acquires all of these traits. In this case, we start to go further and look at the something that we call the Jezebel Spirit, and I plan on going more into this in another post.
Someone who has NPD may have most of the following traits. Again, someone with NPD does not have to have ALL of these traits, but the more they have, the more likely they have the personality disorder. In my experience along with hours upon hours of research, I have found that narcissistic traits can include many or all of the following:
- Having an elevated opinion of oneself or a high sense of self-worth Narcissistic people think very highly of themselves and will always put themselves on a status that is elevated above everyone else around them. “I am better than you [everyone].” ; “This company [family] cannot run without me.”; “You need me to make this work.”; “There is no one else who can do this better than me.”; “I am the only one who can do this,” and they truly believe they are.
- Turns every conversation back to themselves and desires high amount of attention from others We remember the famous quote by Bette Midler in Beaches, “Enough about me. Let’s talk about you. What do you think about me?” Narcissists are famous for turning every conversation back to themselves. They will say things like, “I saw or heard what you did, but that’s nothing. Look what I did.”; “You may be able to bench 200 lbs, but I can bench 225.”; “I see what you have, but look at mine! I have bigger/better/more…!” They will always try to one-up you and turn the conversation back to themselves, but even if they have not done better, they will still turn it back to them. For example, you may say, “I lost 35lbs!” and they will come back with, “Oh, yeah? Well, I lost 10!” and they will never even acknowledge your accomplishment of losing 35lbs. If they cannot get a lead on you, they will start to downgrade your item or accomplishment. “I never liked that anyway.”; “I don’t know why they chose that color. I’ve always thought that color was awful.”; “She’s not as pretty as she thinks she is.”
- Places their needs before others and other’s needs; considers themselves and their own needs most important “I understand that you have other things to do, but I need your help.” ; “I know that you need to leave, but I need you to do just one more thing for me; then you can go.” Narcissists will always need just one more thing. Their cup will never be full enough to allow you to leave without fulfilling “just one more.” They will assume that your own family will be fine waiting just a little longer.
- A sense of pride / Large ego Narcissists wants to win every argument. They believe they are always right and that everyone else around them is wrong; even if the majority is against them, they will still fight and demand that they are right and never give in. If a narcissist looks as though they are giving in to those around them, they are really not, and rest assured that they are keeping a scorecard. They will be out to get anyone who deflates their ego for “making them look bad in front of everyone.” This is very personal for them and their sense of pride as they truly believe that they are really THAT good and can do no wrong. “I am better than him/her.”; “I can do [have done] better than that, myself!”; “I am the best man for the job.”; “No one can be as good at this as I am.”; “I am irreplaceable.”
- Requires others to admire them excessively – Demands respect even when it’s not deserved “You will respect my authority, or else.”; “I am your mother/father/boss/husband, and you must respect [obey] me!”
- Lacks compassion or empathy and cannot recognize the needs of others A narcissist may tell you to “just shake it off and smile.” They may suddenly disappear whenever someone is in emotionally or physically hurt; however, they will always expect you to be there for them when they are in need, either emotionally or physically, and will lash out at you when you are not. A narcissist will say things like, “They deserved what happened to them.”; “You’re just too sensitive.”
- Lashes out / Exploitative / Rages beyond control Narcissists tend to rage at anyone, anytime, anywhere whenever they feel attacked, insecure, or not in control. They do this in order to gain control of the people around them and “put them in their place.” At one moment everything will be fine, and the next moment the narcissist is raging out of control. This tends to leave the people around them feeling scared, confused, and walking on eggshells. This technique allows the narcissist to gain control of the situation and people around them who are suddenly catering to the narcissist’s every need in order to just calm them down. This also brings the narcissist back to the center of attention, which is fuel for them and exactly what they always want.
- Blames others for their own shortcomings A narcissist truly believes deep down that they can do nothing wrong. If anything fails, it’s always someone else’s fault, and they will have very good reasons to support their theory. “You are the reason this failed, not me.”; “You’re the reason I couldn’t do that.”; “It’s your fault that didn’t work out for me.”; “If it weren’t for you, this would have succeeded.” You will even find yourself walking away; actually believing that you are the problem. You will find yourself trying to make up for their shortcomings because they have you convinced that you are the problem.
- Makes others look or feel like they are the one with the problem – This is also known as gas-lighting. Narcissists are very good at convincing you that you or your memory is flawed and that the way that you see or remember things is completely wrong. They are so good at convincing you that their memory is superior and your memory is not, that they will have you completely convinced that they are right and you are wrong all or most of the time. They will do this to the point of you questioning your own sanity. “You don’t remember that correctly. What really happened is…”; “No, that’s not what I said. What I really said was…”; “You are wrong. That is not the way that it happened.”; “You are crazy if you remember it that way.”; “You’re always making this stuff up in your head.”
- Envious of others / Jealous Narcissists always want to have what others have, and they feel that they deserve it even more than you. They will mark their territory everywhere they go by stating what they want that belongs to you. They will strive to obtain exactly what you have, but they often tend to one-up you by getting the newer version, better model, or more expensive piece. Once they get it, they are sure to let you, and everyone else, know about it, and if you don’t recognize their superiority in obtaining said item, they will then turn against you and put you (and your item) down. “I never liked that anyway.”; “I always thought that was ugly.”; “I wouldn’t have it!”; “I deserve that and they don’t!”; “That should have been mine.”;
- Talks down to others who they believe do not measure up to them or their standards Narcissists tend to talk down to those who they feel are beneath them on the ladder of success, such as a server or someone in any business of providing any kind of service to others. Anytime their needs are not met by this person, even when the Narcissists needs have not been made known, they will lash out at the person in service and talk to them as if they are nothing. They will never submit to the authority of someone who is in a service providing position. In fact, their requests of them may seem more like demands or expectations. Upon entering a place of business, they will purposely bypass the greeter and immediately want to know who’s in charge. Assuming that the greeter is below them and has no authority, they will treat them as such.
- A sense of entitlement; believes that they should have everything they want at exactly the time that they want it Narcissists believe that everything is for them and for their consumption. They believe that they should have everything that they want, even if they cannot afford it or haven’t worked for it. They subconsciously believe that if they see it, it already belongs to them, and they can take it at any time. This is not to be confused with a thief. This is not how they take it. It’s more of a manipulative “I saw it, and I deserve it” kind of way. Think of a toddler with his toys. Everything is “Mine!” They have been known to run over anyone who gets in the way of what they want because it interrupts what they believe they deserve, are entitled to, or already belongs to them.
- Judges and criticizes others (can even be even jokingly) and then tries to make themselves look like the good guy Narcissists may say degrading things and then follow it up with, “I was just joking.”; “I don’t know why you can’t take a joke.”; “You’re so sensitive.”; “That shirt makes you look fat. Ahh… You know I’m just joking.” (Note that they will never actually apologize for saying anything hurtful or for anything that they do. If you somehow eventually make them apologize, it will be more of a mockery and not sincere.)
- Manipulates others and situations in order to get what they want Narcissists will use anyone who they believe can provide their wants and desires, and as soon as you can no longer provide for them, they will no longer need you. Once they target their desire, they will use their brilliant mind and flattery to get what they want. They will even make you feel superior for a very short time just so they can acquire a particular need or desire. They will start to flatter you when they once had nothing good to say to you or about you. Once they have what they want, you will suddenly find yourself demoted back to the peasant they believe you are, and they will no longer have any respect for you, due to the fact that they were able to manipulate you.
- Believes that rules don’t apply to them Narcissists believe that they are above the rules and that they don’t have to follow or abide by them. They tend to befriend anyone who is higher in authority in an organization and manipulate situations in such a way that they are able to get away with things that others cannot get away with. They feel that the rules don’t apply to them and can usually talk their way out of any situation if ever questioned. They will also target the ones who they perceive as competition in order to eliminate that person, make themselves look better, and come out on top. They will do very well at holding you to the rules, as they continue to break them in secret. If a narcissist ever feels that they are about to be found out, they will suddenly create a diversion, turning all eyes on you. They will even shoot accusations at you in front of everyone. This allows them to gain other’s trust and for their own behavior to continue to go unnoticed.
- Continually violates or ignores other’s physical or emotional boundaries Boundaries is a word and action that no narcissist knows. As we established before, Narcissists believe that everything is for them and their consumption, so with this they subconsciously believe that what you have belongs to them and that they can take whatever they want at any time. This can be something as simple as time, emotional support, and acts of service. They believe that their wants and needs take priority and come first, and they will violate every boundary there is until they get it. As soon as you begin to set boundaries with a narcissist, they will rebel. Narcissists do not like boundaries, and they will do everything they can to tear them down once they are in place.
- Charmers Narcissists really know how to turn on the charm. They are very good at using their charm in order to get what they want. They will use false flattery to get you on their side, and once you’re there, they will use your loyalty to satisfy their own selfish needs. Once they realize that you no longer need their flattery and their tactics are no longer working, they will not have anything to do with you, and your relationship will come to an end.
- Triangulates – Talks about others to you, and talks to you about others Narcissists are very good at stirring the pot and then walking away. They tend to talk to person A about person B; then they will talk about persons A & B to person C and so on. Once persons A, B, and C are at odds with one another, the narcissists will then step away and look innocent as if they had nothing to do with instigating the controversy. They can do this in such a way that they really look innocent to the naked eye (gas-lighting); however, when you look more closely, you will find them in the center of it all. When you finally approach the narcissists, they will deny everything. They are so clever at charming others and lying that you won’t even know they are doing it. The narcissist is very good at making you believe them (gas-lighting). They can make you truly believe that the situation is not like you see it and that it is, in fact, just as they see it (gas-lighting). Like I also referenced in #2, narcissists will turn every situation and conversation back to them, EXCEPT in this situation. In instances such as these, the narcissist will allow others to be in the spotlight, but only for a brief moment, so that the narcissist will not found out, and they tend to blend so far into the background that they are temporarily forgotten until the situation passes. As soon as the situation is resolved, the narcissist will suddenly show up again, looking as innocent as ever.
- Loves drama and thrives on the tragedy of others Narcissists will always find themselves in the middle of drama because they thrive on it. They will even create it if everything seems to be peaceful and going well. This seems to give them some sort of high or thrilling satisfaction. This drama can also piggy-back onto #18 from above. Narcissists also thrive on the tragedy of others. They will never show true empathy for the tragedy and will play along until this tragedy calls for attention to be drawn away from the narcissist and on to the one who is truly hurt or in need. At that point, the narcissist will start to degrade the tragedy to merely a misfortune. The narcissist will usually say things like, “You’re fine. Shake it off.” In the case of a miscarriage, they may say something like: “There was probably something wrong with the baby anyway. You can always have more.”
- Takes great pride in their appearance Taking natural steps towards a healthy appearance does not always point toward narcissism. It is good to desire to look nice and healthy; however, narcissists take it to the extreme. They are in love with the way they look and tend to be very attracted to themselves. They love to get glimpses of themselves throughout the day. I read, once, that narcissists like to surround themselves with a lot of mirrors because every glimpse is a reflection back to themselves everywhere they go.
- Extremely sensitive to criticism; tends to act out when someone points out a possible shortcoming Narcissists can certainly dish it out, but they cannot take it. They are extremely sensitive to correction and will see it as a personal attack. They tend to lash out and become extremely defensive and angry. Delivery doesn’t matter to a narcissist, as any kind of correction or criticism will come across as being negative to them; even when delivered as constructively and positively as possible. This is because, underneath, the narcissist is very insecure; however, they also believe they can do no wrong. The narcissist will turn each and every situation back on you; immediately letting you know what they think about the criticism and that their failure (as they see it) is your fault. The narcissist is very clever at turning the blame and making you see things their way. They are so clever at this that you will leave the situation questioning your own motives and sanity; feeling as though you may possibly be to blame for their shortcoming after all.
- Needs to feel as though they are in control of everyone, every situation, and every outcome Narcissists are very manipulative and clever. They will arrange meetings and situations to be in their favor. They will try to get as many people on their side as possible in order to be able to take over and control outcomes and situations. In the corporate world, this can be known as a Hostile Takeover, but this same thing can happen in families, friendships, and organizations as well. They secretly build their army one person at a time and then arrange manipulation tactics in order to put themselves on the top of the chain. The narcissist wants to be in charge of everything; manipulating and controlling every situation and outcome. If things suddenly do not go as planned, they will begin to play the victim and pretend to be emotionally hurt in order to gain compassion from the group. This allows the group to lower their guard, feel sorry for the narcissist, and re-think giving the narcissist exactly what they asked for. In the end, the narcissist walks out of the room with everything they wanted and, sometimes, even more.
- Exaggerates situations or events or tends to tell little lies in order to make themselves look better Narcissists will tell lies in order to get you to do or give them what they want. They use these lies to help with their manipulation tactics. “If you do this, then I will do this…”; however, they rarely keep up their side of the bargain. Once you give them what they want, they will come up with every excuse as to why they cannot fulfill their obligation to you; even blame you for not fulfilling your obligation when you know that you did. They are very good at telling one-sided stories (which is only their side of the story) about situations. They will leave out important details to make themselves look good while the other person looks bad. They will say things like, “I never did that!”; “I never said that! What I really said was…” Even though you heard them say or saw them do that particular thing they are being accused of, they will be so convincing that you will begin to question your own memory and eventually your own sanity.
- Loves to be the center of attention, hates anyone who threatens to steal it from them, tends to not participate in anything that does not allow them to be the center of attention, and typically arranges and manipulates opportunities where they can shine Narcissists love to be the center of attention and in the spotlight at all times. They typically have a very outgoing spirit about them that allows them to be an extrovert without exhaustion in most every situation. If anyone, at any time, tends to steal the spotlight from them, they will become very angry and typically lash out or make some kind of a scene. This “scene” allows them back into the spotlight position, even if it is short-lived because of their attitude. They believe that they deserve to be in the spotlight and no one can do it better than them. If the spotlight is given to someone else, the narcissist will secretly manipulate destruction of the other person in order for the spotlight to be turned back to them. The narcissist will arrange and manipulate opportunities where they can shine. They will create events just so they can be the center of attention and even the one ultimately in charge. Narcissists tend to say no to any event that does not allow them to shine or is not all about them.
- Freezes others out when they don’t get what they want Narcissists are used to manipulating others in order to get what they want when they want it. However, if the occasion arises to where they don’t get something they want, think they deserve, or someone doesn’t meet their expectations (even if the narcissist has not made their expectations known or clear) then the narcissist will freeze out the person who did not fulfill their desires. They will freeze the person out by not talking to them, ignoring them, or in some instances completely cutting them off. They do this as a means of punishment or “putting them in their place.” On occasion, the Narcissist will begin to treat others in the same circle better than before, in hopes of making their victim come crawling back to seek forgiveness for something they never did, to begin with. If the narcissist ever sees their own misfortune as being your fault, they are really good at convincing others to believe them over you. They can even manipulate others into freezing you out as well until you come back to them and apologize.
- Thinks that all problems stem from everyone else Because narcissists believe that they can do no wrong, this leads them to believe that the problem is with everyone else. Anytime something is not right, whether it be in a job, community, or relationship of any kind, the narcissist will always blame others for the problem. Narcissists will say things like, “I’m right, and you’re wrong, and that’s all there is to it.”; “She’s the one who needs to apologize; not me. I did nothing wrong.”; “It’s all your fault this happened.”; “It’s your fault that you can’t take a joke.” ; “I’m sorry you can’t take a joke.”; “You shouldn’t be so sensitive.” Narcissists will also make you feel bad for being angry at them. This is a tactful and subtle way of getting the blame off of them and onto you. This is the only time that you will see a narcissist disappear into the background, but be rest assured that this disappearance is only temporary; until the incident blows over and has been forgotten. Narcissists are offended easily and often. They can receive truth ONLY if it is a praise of them or if it reveals how well they performed in a particular situation. If there is anything negative to say about a narcissists performance, you are better off keeping that to yourself, unless you’re ready for the raging words and daggers that will surely follow.
- Believes that they are smarter than everyone else and tends to find fault with anyone who doesn’t or with anyone who undermines their intelligence Not everyone who is smart should be considered a narcissist. The difference between a genuinely smart or intelligent person and a narcissist is that a narcissist is very good at making others think that they know everything about everything, even when they don’t. They are so good at convincing others to follow them and believe that their way is the ONLY right way. The narcissist is very good at getting others to see things the way that he sees them. When a narcissist comes under question, they tend to become very defensive and even upset at the thought that someone could possibly not believe them. They become very agitated at questions and can even become aggressive with their behavior. This aggressiveness tends to make the others around them fall back into order to the narcissist’s leading. It can also confuse the situation in such a way that the others around them start to see things exactly as the narcissist sees them, even though it is all false. Anyone who claims that the narcissist has false information will be a target for the narcissist, and the narcissist will go as far as those around him will let him in order to single out the perpetrator, make that person look as bad as possible, and eventually dispose of that person altogether. The narcissist will also go as far as going behind his back and manipulating conversations and situations in order to make that particular person look as bad as possible.
Over the past few years of reading about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I have learned that there is no cure for those who suffer from it. There are treatment options; however, they are near impossible to implement. Those who have NPD have no idea that they suffer from it, and there is no convincing them that they do. In my experience, the best way to deal with a narcissist is to set proper and strong boundaries and to tell them no. Narcissists hate the word no, and they will rebel every time they hear it. I plan, in later, upcoming articles, to talk about proper boundary setting when dealing with a Narcissist and also how NPD is directly linked to the Jezebel Spirit. I hope that today’s blog has helped you understand what NPD really is. Leave a comment, and let me know how this has helped you and your understanding of NPD.
*NOTE: This blog is for entertainment and educational purposes only and should not be a substitute for any medical advice. I have not had any medical training. I am not a doctor, and I do not claim to be one in any capacity. This blog has been written from my personal perspective, research, and experiences only.