“Are you a narcissist?” Let’s start off by saying that if you are interested in finding out if you may be a narcissist, then you probably aren’t one. You see thousands and thousands of articles on how to spot narcissism in someone else, but you rarely see any helping those that may be narcissistic.
That is because people who are narcissistic refuse to question themselves. That said, if you are willing (against all odds) to take the step towards awareness, then this is a great place to start.
Note: If you were sent this article by a friend and feel angry towards them for “calling you out,” then you may need to read it more than you know.
What is a Narcissist?
Now, you’ve surely seen posts on Facebook about narcissism, but there is a good chance that you’ve never taken the time to truly understand what it is. According to Psychology Today, “The hallmarks of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are grandiosity, a lack of empathy for other people, and a need for admiration.” This will inwardly lead to an arrogant, self-centered, manipulative, and demanding attitude. But the catch is…it won’t appear that way. If you had to explain narcissism in one word, it would likely be superiority. Narcs have such a deep-rooted insecurity built on self-loathing that they don’t know what to do besides manipulate others into building them up.
Bottom line: Narcs want to feel special.
What Does it Look Like?
According to psychologist Susan Heitler, “Narcissistic folks who are fun, good at things, and appear in public to be compassionate and generous often look like they would be as desirable friends and even as marriage partners. They can be very enjoyable to hang out with.” However, their home life is never, ever what it appears to be. In public, they will be the nicest, most charismatic person you’ve ever met. But at home…well, you might want to ask their immediate family about that…and trust me, you will get mixed signals. So, you shouldn’t be surprised if they have been manipulated into believing that they are the ones in the wrong rather than their loved one.
In actuality, time and time again, the more narcissistic someone becomes, the more they will try to “win over” and “impress” others. They know, deep down, what they are. So they will push themselves into different communities (church, clubs, distant relatives, etc.) in order to prove that they are the normal one. When they are really using the community as a coping mechanism for their own faults. It’s almost like a not-yet-convicted criminal. He will do everything he can to win people (esp. the jury) over. That way, whenever the time comes, he can “prove” that he’s a good guy because he has all of these people backing him. Where does that leave the victim? As the bad guy…convicting this innocent man of a heinous crime.
“Not him, everyone loves him!”
While it may be easy to spot narcissism in someone else you know well, spotting it in yourself is another story. It may seem crazy to ask yourself if you have a personality disorder or mental disorder. But the truth is, harm never comes from finding out more about one’s self, simply from refusing to listen to anyone else’s opinion. So, time to take a look at a few telltale signs that you are a narcissist.
A Need for Attention
This one is pretty straightforward if you seek the truth rather than an ideal. Do you get angry when “your” friend spends more time with someone else than with you? Do you enjoy being the life of the party and become uncomfortable when someone tries to outshine you? Do you take pride in being “the one” everyone asks for advice, guidance, or management? These are the types of questions that you may not think about asking yourself.
Narcissists are constantly playing a game. They can make you feel like the most special person in the world…all for what they can get out of you. Their ploy is to make sure everyone loves them, pulling away from anyone who may find fault in them or doesn’t make them feel special enough. They’ll treat you like a queen (or king) so you’ll treat them like a king (or queen). The catch is…they can’t let you run free without slipping in tiny psychological phrases that are meant to keep them on top.
Although phrases shouldn’t be taken out of context, psychologists have listed many different lines that are go-to cop-outs for narcissists. Do you find yourself saying these lines? Or even thinking them on a regular basis?
- “I’ll do what’s best for me.”
- “I know what is best.”
- “It’s not all about you.”
- “I’m sorry you feel that way.”
- “You’re just paranoid.”
- “I don’t want to talk about that.”
- “I’m not going to just get over it.”
- “You just don’t understand me.”
- “You don’t know what it’s like to me be.”
- “I didn’t mean it that way, that’s just the way you took it.”
- “It’s not my fault.”
If some of them just jump out at you (paired with a lump in the throat) and you can recall yourself saying them, then you might want to take a better look at yourself.
Can’t Get Past Ideal
Narcissists are often so preoccupied with what they deserve and where they want to be, that they lose sight of the present. They get frustrated when their spouse doesn’t look or act the way they want them to in public. They will even long for a different life, one with a better job, spouse, body, or whatever else isn’t “perfect” in their life. But what they want more than anything…is freedom. They are constantly afraid that someone else will control them when in actuality, they are the only ones obsessed with control.
For this reason, jealousy runs deep within them. This goes along the lines of being attention seekers. They need everyone to focus on them as often as possible and are jealous of those getting more attention than them. Those who are “better looking” or who are “treated better” than they are.
If you find yourself spending more time focusing on what car (body, husband, house, etc.) someone else drives than what car you drive, then you may be a narcissist.
In the Know
It will grind a narcissist’s gears if they are the last to find something out. They live each day trying to find out something that someone else doesn’t know. For this reason, you’ll often find them spouting off trivia or random gossip that they know. They want to be the one to tell you. For some reason, they feel like they aren’t as important if someone they deem less important than them lets them in on unknown news.
At the same time, they will also take pride in you not knowing their business, no matter how petty it may be. So, if you feel hurt when you aren’t the first to find out someone’s news, and if you feel like you “have one over on someone” when you withhold news, then you may be a narcissist.
Getting by With It?
Are you enthralled by people who seem to be able to get away with anything? Narcissists are hardly ever rule followers and instead look for ways they can bend the rules, always having a backup plan for if they are caught. They will get as close to the line as possible without breaking it just so they can say, “I never said that,” or “I never did that.” To us, it’s bending the truth, to them, it’s strategy.
They love to tell people about, “a little secret,” they know. At times, it gets so intense, that they will applaud someone who is cheating on their spouse or committing crimes without anyone finding out. Does this sound like you?
Never Your Fault
Think about the last bad experience you had…go on…take as long as you wish…now…whose fault was it? If you’re a narcissist, there’s a good chance that you won’t say yourself. If it is your fault, and deep down you know it, you’ll probably revert to, “it’s no one’s fault” or, “why does it have to be someone’s fault?” because that is much easier than taking the blame.
One of the hardest things a narcissist can do is admit that they did something wrong. If they can ever even muster an, “I’m sorry,” then it is inevitably followed with, “but…” throwing the ball back in your court. In fact, if you’re a narcissist, you no doubt have no idea how to understand someone else’s feelings because you are so wrapped up in your own. After an argument, you will think about how it affected you, and only you. If you ever begin to think about how someone else might feel, you just assume that they have the same emotional make-up that you do.
On the same note, a narcissist seems to have the inability to do anything for someone else without expecting praise. Want another test? Think back to the last thing you did for someone out of the “goodness of your heart.” Now, were you sure to tell someone about what you did? Maybe quite a few people? Was the praise even more important than the original act to you?
Good or Bad? Never Both
This one isn’t spoken of often, but a narcissist can never see a happy medium. Everything they experience is either good or bad. If they go on a trip, it can be ruined by the smallest detail. So much so that their memory can be construed to the point where they won’t remember the trip correctly. Everything in their life is either bad or good…there is no in-between. Their life is ruled by fear, jealousy, control, and their mood.
You Have an Addiction
Although anyone can have an addiction, it seems that almost every narcissist will have one they just can’t break. It could be alcohol, gambling, food, porn, or spending money. Whatever it is, it’s all the same because addiction is never healthy. Now every narc may not be addicted to the same substance, but every narcissist (and I mean every single one) has an addiction to control.
According to one psychologist, “The addicted narcissist keeps turning to the drug again and again to get that incredible on-top-of-the-world feeling. When the drug wears off, they are often filled with shame. And when the shame becomes unbearable, they turn to the drug again.”
Can’t Take Criticism
No one enjoys a tongue-lashing and no one craves the chance to be criticized. But it happens, and we grow from it. For a narcissist, there’s no such thing as “constructive’ criticism. Narcissists love to criticize others but can’t stand it when others do the same to them. One hint at them not being perfect and you may find them distancing themselves from you, if not taking themselves out of your life for good.
If you try to tell a narcissist something that is bothering you, something that hurt you, they will turn it around and see it as a personal attack against their character. It’s easy to think of someone you know who does this…but what about you? Think about the last time someone told you something that you took as a personal flaw they were seeing in you. Did you get a lump in your throat? Did you feel bad about yourself? Did you feel as if you failed the other person? That you wish you could make them feel better? Did you feel a need to become better? That is pretty normal, most people do not like confrontation or criticism.
However, if you felt as if, “I can never do anything right by them,” or, “they are always finding fault in me,” or, “I can’t believe they would even say that” then you may be exhibiting narcissistic tendencies.
This is called personalizing. It happens when the person (narc) hears criticism when it’s not even there. If your spouse were to say, “I feel lonely,” and you hear, “you don’t spend enough time with me,” that is personalizing. If you walk into a room and just “know” that the people there were talking about you…that is a narcissistic trait.
So Now What?
If you found out more about yourself than you had hoped, then good for you! Self-awareness is the first step toward change. So now that you know, you can seek help from those who love you. And if you’re brave enough, consult a psychologist! No one has ever regretted therapy. If you feel like there’s no way you could have any of these tendencies, then think again. Just as we all sin, we all exhibit selfish (even narcissistic) behavior from time to time. Believing that you don’t? Well, I think you know what comes next.
Disclaimer: Emily Medlock is not a psychologist, but someone with an interest in psychology. Everything you’ve read in this article was heavily researched to maintain accuracy.