The past months I have been seeing and hearing the words narcissism and narcissists more often. In the news, headlines and in conversations. Narcissism does has a definition in my head, but not a very clear one. Something that goes along the lines of: ‘people who loves themselves a lot.’ Right? This is a not so clear definition and the concept narcissism is still a vague mystery to me. Hearing these words that always sounded ‘mysterious’ to me, more often, made me wonder:
What is the actual truth about narcissism?
When I first started reading into it, I had a vague idea in mind but afterwards I was shook by what I had found. There was a side to narcissism I hadn’t quite known before and to learn everything about narcissism and why I was a bit shook, read on.
- Why is this so important for me to know?
- The truth about narcissism
So, let’s dive in.
the habit of admiring yourself too much, especially your appearance.
Let’s say you are shopping with your friend Juliet. You are fitting a dress and as you come out of the fitting room and look into the mirror, you ask Juliet: ‘What do you think?’ Juliet stands up, walks to the mirror, looks at you and then says with a smile: ‘my hair looks so good today, take a few pictures of me, will you?’ When you don’t reply and walk back to put on your other clothes, Juliet starts to take pictures of herself. She doesn’t even notice you left, let alone that you are hurt.
This is an ideal example of how an actual narcissist behaves. Juliet is clearly only obsessed with how she looks and does not care about your dress, your question or your feelings for that matter.
Narcissist often have these traits:
- Dominance and arrogance.
- They lack empathy, meaning they can’t see when you’re hurt, what you’re feeling and if they did, they wouldn’t care/know how to respond to it.
- Feelings of superiority, meaning they feel better than others and treat others like they’re inferior.
- Narcissist never expect to fail. They believe success is all that is coming to them and don’t think they will ever not succeed.
- They have the belief they are unique and don’t think many are as amazing, smart and/or handsome as they are.
I think you have quite a good view on narcissism now, right? I am sure you can call to mind at least one person in your life who has 1 or more traits listed above, and that is acceptable. But narcissists have them all.
But why is this so important to know, for me?
You might wonder now: I understand narcissism, but why do I have to know so much about it? Why does it matter so much? The answer is clear.
Because narcissism affects you. A lot.
But before we jump to conclusions, there are two sides. Let’s start with the first.
As you read the story with Juliet, I am sure you felt the emotions that come from being ignored and neglected. Feeling alone or ignored unfortunately happens sometimes in everyone’s life, but it will literally crush your mental health when you feel inferior to another person, every day. Narcissists people often do not recognize their own behavior, so you are the only one struggling with it. But if you, which you probably do, genuinely care for that person, you do not want to let go.
Feeling sad, hurt and inferior to another human being can bring you so many awful moments and having a narcissistic friend often turns into a toxic friendship, and toxic friendships can do a lifetime of damage to your own mental health.
If you see the symptoms of narcissism relating to someone close to you, it is important to not get too close and let them affect you, anymore. You can consider talking to them, if you genuinely want them to change and want to try making them aware of their own behavior, but first of all, it is crucial to distance yourself from a narcissist and especially stop depending on one, as a toxic friendship often is one person depending on the other. Getting too involved with a narcissistic person can, no matter how hard you try not to let it happen, scar you a lot.
Besides having a friend who might be narcissistic, there is also yourself. You might have read the symptoms and was a little shook? That might have been because you related to a lot of them. There is a possibility you actually are a narcissist, yourself. That might feel like bad news. But there is good news, too. The fact that you even consider it now and not immediately put the thought away, means you care and want to change. Self-awareness is crucial to living a happy life and admitting you are or have traits of a narcissistic person, brings you a step closer to change, already. Work on changing the way you view yourself and others and the way you treat yourself and others and make it your priority. If you focus on becoming a better person, you will become a better one.
But is this the only form of narcissism?
The truth about narcissism
Not too few people will recognize themselves in the definition of narcissism and a lot probably have traits of narcissism sometimes. Narcissism in this kind is okay. It is changeable and acceptable and a person often (hopefully) has control over it.
But then, if we take narcissism a step further, there is a whole new understanding. A concept I did not know of until know and which had me a bit stunned:
Narcissism Personality Disorder (NPD)
NPD is a mental illness where a person has all the symptoms, in an extreme form. People with NPD have an inflated sense of their own importance, lack of empathy for others (which often turns into troubled relationships) and a deep need for attention and admiration of others.
This belief of power, brilliance and outstanding beauty of oneself can eventually lead to difficulties surrounding school, work, relationships and physical health. It can also turn into depression, anxiety, drugs or alcohol misuse and in some extreme cases, suicidal thoughts or behavior.
If you or someone around you is struggling with NPD, talk to a doctor as soon as possible. The causes are unknown but it can be related to family, how someone was raised by their parents or traumatic experiences in the past. Talking to a doctor can put you in contact with a therapist, who will do psychotherapy, meaning talk therapy, with you. Someone struggling with NPD often has no idea of how to handle certain situations or process events that have taken place in the past, and psychotherapy helps with that.
The difference between ‘just’ narcissism and NPD?
That is very simple and can be said briefly: NPD is far more serious. People suffering from NPD find it very hard to change (although it is possible), whereas narcissistic people are quicker to see how they are behaving and faster to admitting they need to change.
What a ride, huh? Narcissism has two sides, which one is less harmful than the other but both are still powerful and in power of ruining relationships and controlling someone’s life.
I genuinely hope you learned from this article and you found what you were searching for. And as a finishing touch, a little question:
Do you have tips on dealing with narcissism, whether it is for yourself or dealing with a narcissist person? Share them below!
If you have suggestions or questions, don’t be afraid to contact me or tell me below, I will reply as soon as possible!
Let me know what you think of this article or what you would like to see more!