What Is Narcissism and How To Identify It?
You might think that you would be able to spot a narcissist as soon as you meet them, but it’s not always readily apparent that someone is obsessed with themselves, even years after knowing that person. They can be charming and even seemingly compassionate, so much so that you brush off little signs that they are actually just preoccupied with themselves. By the time that you have already started a relationship with this person, you might be completely blind to the reality that they are a narcissist.
You have probably already experienced what it’s like to be around a narcissist, without realizing it. Is there someone in your life who thinks his opinion is better than anyone else’s? Someone who really only listens to himself? Someone who changes the topic when you try to talk about what is going on in your life? Someone who gets defensive if you try to talk about something difficult, especially if they are going through something difficult, something they deem to be bigger or more important than what you are going through? Let’s talk about what is narcissism and how to identify it.
What is narcissism?
The term “narcissist” has its roots in the Greek myth of Narcissus. This was an extremely handsome young man who was in love with his reflection in a pool of water. He was so obsessed with looking at himself, that he couldn’t stop and he died there by the pool. Narcissism has widely been used as a term for someone how is self-obsessed, but it is also a mental disorder. What is narcissism? In short, it is a sense of self-importance so large that it looms over everything else.
How can I identify narcissism?
It’s easy to mislabel someone who has healthy self-love as a narcissist. There is a big difference between someone who is proud of their own accomplishments and someone who cares about nothing but himself or herself. In reality, most people who are real, pathological narcissists simply project this idealized image of themselves to avoid having to reveal their true feelings, flaws and failings to the people around them. They often internally feel like failures and might have staggering self-doubt. Here’s how to identify a narcissist:
1. They control every conversation they’re a part of.
Not only do they love to talk about themselves (and hate to talk about you and what’s going on in your life), they also love to know more than you. When talking to a narcissist, you might feel less like you’re in a conversation and more like you are just being talked at. Any time you express an opinion or idea, they will “correct” or “dismiss” you, probably in a way that makes you feel like you and your thoughts are not wanted.
2. They interrupt the conversation to turn it back to themselves.
Maybe you’re trying to tell that person about the difficult time you’ve been having at work and they keep cutting and refocusing the conversation on their difficult time at work. They have little to no interest in your life. They might let you talk for a little while, but only until they can find a way shoehorn in a story about themselves.
3. They love breaking the rules.
A narcissist believes that they are special and that the rules do not apply to them. They actually take pleasure in violating the rules, especially when it comes to unspoken social rules. These are the people that tag insults with “I’m just being honest,” as if that was an excuse for saying something rude or hurtful to another person. This is also the person that you find always under-tipping perfectly fine waiters, breaking traffic laws, and cutting in line.
4. They violate social boundaries.
This is the person at work who takes another person’s labeled lunch out of the fridge and eats it without asking and without remorse. They are not just inconsiderate; they go out of their way to violate the innate social boundaries that we all know and follow. They can’t keep a promise, feel no obligation to anyone else, and they constantly borrow or flat out steal other people’s things without asking and without any intention of returning it.
5. They are only concerned with impressing others.
Their actions have nothing to do with being inwardly successful or happy. Instead, they only do things to gain recognition from others. All of their decisions are made with the goal of making themselves appear better than others. They only care about how they look to others. This means they will do things specifically just to outdo others or will take actions that they do not really believe in, just to appear a certain way to the people who view them.
6. They believe they are owed special treatment.
A narcissist believes that they deserve to be treated preferentially because of who they are. They expert that other people will cater to them, but they will never cater to anyone else’s needs. Remember, the world revolves around them. If you find yourself constantly going out of your way to make sure another person is happy and they never do the same for you, that person is probably a narcissist.
7. You get a negative emotion every time you are around them.
Spreading negative feelings is a great way to make sure that you feel insecure. This is part of how they keep other people under their spell. They pretend that you have slighted them, they make backhanded comments about you, or they ridicule or blame you for things that are not your fault. They boost their own egos by undercutting yours, leaving you feeling insecure and uncertain about your own behavior and thoughts.
Narcissists are extremely damaging people. They will make you doubt yourself and there are times when you might feel like you don’t trust yourself or your own thoughts if under the spell of a narcissist. If you find yourself in an endlessly trapped scenario with an ego fueled parent, friend or coworker, take an honest evaluation of how much this person impacts your day to day and consider making changes if you determine your own mental and emotional health is in jeopardy.