Don’t Trust a Narcissist:
Don’t look for intimacy with a narcissist. If you decide to enjoy the narcissist’s charm and charisma, make sure that doesn’t translate into trusting him or her with inner secrets. Don’t set yourself up for betrayal and hurt by having confidence in his or her loyalty. Don’t let your feelings of self-worth depend on a narcissist’s love, actions or behavior.
Speak to the Narcissist’s Self-interest:
It’s usually helpful to express your feelings or needs. But if you’re dealing with a true narcissist, don’t expect empathy and understanding. It’s more effective to show how something will benefit him or her.
Beware of disagreeing with or contradicting narcissists. They behave as though they are confident and strong but they are easily offended. They don’t want to be found to be inadequate. If you confront their weaknesses, they may become vengeful and punishing. Keep your discussion focused on practical goals rather than personal accountability.
Be on your Guard:
Narcissists hide their own flaws and project problems on to other people. Beware of allowing them to blame you for too much. If you are doing business with a narcissist, keep a paper trail. In marriage or divorce, hire a good attorney.
Separating from Narcissistic Parents:
It’s sad to be raised by narcissistic parents, because they view their children as extensions of their own false self-image they present to the world. If the child disagrees or doesn’t abide by the family image, the parents lose interest in or become hostile toward their own child. It’s helpful not to take this personally, but to see that the parents’ preoccupation with their own image and their callousness toward the child are caused by their low self-esteem.
Don’t hope for Change:
It takes a lot of motivation for anyone to change. Unfortunately, narcissists rarely have the desire to change, because they don’t think they need to. They rarely seek counseling, but if they do go, they tend to manipulate the situation in order to look good rather than self-reflect to improve their lives.
Yet, it is helpful to recognize their traits. Then you can choose when to encourage the narcissist’s self-image, to bring a sense of humor, or not deal with him or her at all.
Avoid being Narcissistic:
We all have some narcissistic tendencies, and should beware of becoming dependent on others for their compliments and approval to boost our feelings of self-worth. Psychological dependence on others comes at a cost. It’s good to be reflective and thoughtful to make sure we are considering both our own self-interest and that of others.
There is a big difference, however, between being insecure or self-centered and having the condition of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. If you are self-reflective enough to even wonder whether you are a narcissist, let alone read a psychology blog, it’s highly unlikely that you are!
by Alison Poulsen, PhD
References: “Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders.”