- By D. Ivan Young
Conflict in life is normal, but if you’re constantly experiencing problems in your relationships, always wondering why it seems so difficult for you to achieve your goals, or always wondering why people never seem to live up to yourexpectations, there’s a strong chance YOU are the problem … not them.
The world seems obsessed with pointing out how everyone else is a narcissist. But I’m here to ask you—are YOU one, as well?
Now, before you start tripping, let’s look beyond your ego, as this could be a serious problem.
Maybe you don’t rate as full-blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder but if, on some level, you’re exhibiting even basic narcissistic behaviors, that’s still an issue, and likely ALL of your relationships are being negatively affected by it.
Don’t know whether you’re narcissistic or not? Well, take a moment and ask yourself these 11 questions (and answer them honestly):
- Do you consider yourself a proud person?
- Do you insist on having the best of everything?
- If others don’t give you attention or acknowledgement you feel you deserve, do you feel slighted?
- Do you get easily upset or feel affronted when people disagree with you?
- Are you often critical of the ways in which other people come to conclusions about things?
- Do you believe most other people are dumb?
- When someone offends you, does “going off” on them (or retaliating in some way) make you feel better?
- Are you sick and tired of being the only person in the room who truly gets it?
- Does your life tend to feel more frustrating than fun?
- Does it seem as if you have a pattern where many of your relationships crash and burn?
- When you take over a project, do you end up either doing most of the work, or working by yourself?
If any of these things are true, you might want to look deeper WHY.
If you answered “yes” to five or more of these questions, I hate to break it to you, but you likely have a rather offensive personality and people probably consider you a narcissist.
On the surface being a narcissist comes across as having an inflated sense of your own importance, a deep (almost insistent) need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others.
But behind this mask of ultra-confidence actually lies a fragile self-esteem—vulnerable to the slightest criticism.
So why should you care? After all narcissists lack empathy, right?
Well, you should care because the only thing worse than dealing with a narcissist is displaying the traits yourself and not being aware that you’re doing it.
I mean, who in the hell WANTS others to view them as a self-centered, egotistical, stuck-up jackass?
Beyond people thinking of you in such a disgraceful way, knowing you’re perceived this way is devastating to your own self-worth (even if you don’t want to admit it). This behavior (and mindset) screws up your life in so many areas—ranging from personal relationships, to being happy (or, likely, not) at work, how well you parent … Heck, it can even make a holy mess of your financial affairs.
But the good news is that you CAN do something about this.
Most narcissists don’t mean to act this way at all. At their core they’re good people. Narcissism is merely a way they learned to use to cope with feelings of shame, insecurity, and vulnerability, while attempting to avoid an ongoing sense of potential humiliation.
Often, these feelings begin in childhood. Research indicates … and I wholeheartedly agree … that one of the root causes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder begins with mom and dad overly praising their child in the WRONG way.
Development of these traits stem from an overly indulgent parenting style and also an overly authoritarian parenting style. In other words, you as a child either had no boundaries or were overly-restrained from being a normal kid.
Now that you’re an adult you either expect everyone to kiss your butt or you treat other people how your hyper-controlling parents treated you. Either way, your approach to getting your needs met YOUR way is alienating people.
Which leads me to my next point—you can fix this! Here’s where you need to begin:
1. Be brave enough to ask
Talk to three people who have known you for more than four years, and ask if your behavior reflects a “yes” to those 11 questions above. Don’t ask, “Do you think I’m a narcissist?!” That’s confrontational. Just ask them the 11 questions and they think they apply to you.
And then, instead of arguing back or justifying WHY you do those behaviors, have courage enough to just hear their honest replies and let that information sink in. Just humbling yourself to three people and seeking a new perspective on how others perceive you is already a BIG step in the right direction.
2. Seek out support
If you realize you really are acting like a narcissist and want to shift out of that behavior—good for you. But wanting to and successfully doing so are two different things. Seeking support from a Master Certified Coach, psychologist, or even a psychiatrist is a smart idea. The key to controlling narcissistic behavior is understanding what created the behavior and what triggers narcissistic defense reactions.
Yes, I know “being you” is challenging.
I don’t say that sarcastically. As an expert in conflict management and personality types, I see first-hand how most people with narcissistic traits secretly suffer a great deal. Like I said, these are almost always truly good people at heart.
It’s hurtful when friends, colleagues or family “label” you a narcissist and then tell everyone else about it. Typically, you’re the last one to know there was ever a problem or that you’re being perceived in negative way.
The last thing you (or anyone) wants is to come across like a know-it-all, or have your friends, family, and co-workers perceive you as a self-absorbed, egomaniac. Make no mistake about it; they will and DO tell everyone within proximity about you.
This is especially true if you’re in a supervisory position at your job, play a leadership role in an organization, or are a chairperson in a social organization. What typically happens when people think you’re a narcissist is, they:
- Set you up to fail
- Don’t support you
- Talk about you behind your back
- Avoid contact (and conflict) with you
- Encourage others to stay clear of you, also
In the end, you feel embittered, embarrassed, and resentful—which does nothing but give you cause to continue acting narcissistic.
Of course you want to protect your reputation and dignity by disguising your hurt behind behaviors the attempt to convey high self-esteem. You’re trying to validate yourself not act like a self-absorbed a**hole.
In the event that you’re too prideful to ask others their true opinion of you—the truth remains, if you answered “yes” to those questions above—you definitely have an issue on your hands. Whether it’s ultimately narcissism or not doesn’t really matter. The fact that your life and relationships are being negatively affected DOES. Now that this is out in the open, the choice whether or not to address this is yours.