Have you ever had a conversation with someone and found yourself questioning your sanity afterwards? Is there a loved one or friend in your life who is causing you pain, but somehow it feels like it’s all your fault? You might be dealing with a Narcissist.
“Many people have told me over the years that they feel crazy or that someone in particular is making them crazy,” said Marci B. Stiles, licensed professional counselor and founder of Dallas-based Positive Outlook Counseling. “It is very painful for them because they either care about this person or are forced to work with them and don’t know what to do to mitigate the painful feelings.”
First, Stiles helps them identify exactly with whom they are dealing with. “Understanding is often the first step towards fixing or modifying the problem,” notes Stiles. “Narcissists can cause a lot of pain and it is important for people to know the attributes of a narcissist so they can protect themselves and develop coping strategies.”
A narcissist is someone who is so obsessively self-focused that they rarely feel empathy or concern for others around them. They see the world as revolving around them and have trouble imagining that others around them have lives or outside interests.
When your interests align with a narcissist, they can be very charismatic, charming, fun and interesting. When your interests diverge, they can be cold, demanding, rude and ruthless. They are both highly self-confident and very insecure. Anything that punctures the overly magnificent picture they have of themselves can cause them to fly into a rage or retreat into crying.
Stiles shares 10 common traits with her clients to help them identify the narcissists in their lives.
- Cannot see another’s point of view. Life is either their way or the highway. The narcissist is always correct and others are stupid.
- Require constant validation. They love and seek admiration from everyone and cannot handle criticism. They expect you to admire and praise them often. You may spend a lot of time handling the narcissist’s ego and reaffirming their worldview.
- Big on window dressing. They are show-offs with a big house, fancy cars, motorcycles, trophy spouses, etc. They are big into status and status symbols.
- Look good to impress others. They are often obsessed with their appearance and the appearance of others. In addition, they look for other ways to impress people. “A narcissist might be a big tipper or appear very generous…if they are trying to impress you,” notes Stiles. “It may take a while to realize that their generosity is an act performed for admiration and not a positive character trait.”
- Special. The rules do not apply to narcissists. They often talk about stupid laws or stupid rules. Authority is lame and only for others. They expect special treatment at service establishments and won’t hesitate to inconvenience someone else.
- Easily offended, hurt or rejected. “This may seem odd given how arrogant a narcissist comes across, but they can’t stand even the smallest perceived slight or insult,” adds Stiles. “And they won’t keep their pain to themselves either. They’ll rage and pout or cry and pity themselves for hours.”
- Vain. Narcissists are proud of their bodies, their sexual prowess, their sports abilities, natural talents or business accomplishments – sometimes for no good reason. In their fantasy world, they are the best at everything that matters (to them, of course).
- Entitled. Not only are they special, but narcissists believe they deserve good things all the time. What is yours is theirs and their needs come first. If someone else wins an award or is recognized for achievement, narcissists are indignant that their talents, accomplishments, etc., haven’t been recognized.
- Lack of empathy. Narcissists think everything in some way is about them – even your personal tragedies or experiences. “They have trouble seeing people outside of themselves as being real or important beyond what that person can do for them,” said Stiles. “They will be puzzled or annoyed by others feelings and find them an inconvenience at best. Don’t expect sympathy, generosity or kindness from a narcissist unless he is trying to impress you. If you confide in a narcissist about a problem, you may suddenly find yourself talking about them and their problems.”
10. Poor relationships. Narcissists leave a trail of destruction and bad relationships behind them. “There can be plenty of charm, but very little connection,” notes Stiles. “One strong indicator of a narcissist is whether or not that person has close friendships and/or family relationships. If they don’t, it raises a flag.”
None of these traits in and of themselves means a person is a narcissist. Everyone has bad days, even weeks and months where they may act badly, say terrible things or behave like a complete jerk, explains Stiles.
“What you see with a narcissist is consistency. This is a pattern of behavior for that person. They rarely express remorse unless they want something from you. In their world, they are – to use the words of Mary Poppins – ‘Practically Perfect People’ who are never wrong and thus, never need to say they are sorry.”
Many narcissists are accomplished, charming, functioning members of society – movie stars, CEOs and artists often rate high on the narcissism scale – the problem comes when you do not share their worldview and yet still need to live with them or work with them.
If you suspect a narcissist in your life and would like to schedule an appointment about protection and coping skills, contact Marci Stiles LPC at 972-733-3988 or book your appointment online at http://www.positiveoutlookcounseling.com/schedule-dallas-counseling-appointment/.
Positive Outlook Counseling
Marci B. Stiles, MA, LPC-S, NBCC
Bent Tree Plaza
16610 North Dallas Parkway
Dallas TX 75248
Positive Outlook Counseling services range from individual counseling to family therapy to marriage counseling services. Marci Stiles specializes in individual, family, marriage and troubled teen therapy.