Narcissist behavior can be hard to spot if you don’t know how. None of the narcissists I have known fit in to the “fascinated by their own reflection” mold of Greek myth. Here is the best way I have found to identify real narcissistic behavior.
Narcissistic behavior primarily seeks to avoid appearing to fail, often through overt demonstrations of success. They must look successful, even if they can’t be successful. Narcissist have little regard for other people’s accomplishments, and will push others down to look relatively better.
The behavior of narcissists can be quite varied as they adapt to situations. But what follows are core behaviors that you might not expect from a narcissist.
Narcissistic Behaviors Avoid Loss of Social Value at All Costs
While narcissists may seem outwardly confident, self-absorbed, and extremely content with themselves, nothing could be further from the truth. The hidden secret behind pathological narcissism is that they deep down question their own worth and validity.
All of their bravado and self-aggrandizement is smoke and mirrors attempting to distract the world from what they fear the most, which is that they are worthless at the core of their being.
This is reflected in particular by a number of common narcissistic behaviors including:
- The inability to accept constructive criticism
- Overly aggressive response to minor transgressions
- Making themselves the victim
- Overstating their accomplishments while understating the accomplishments of others
- Seeing coworkers and family members as competition
For a narcissist, all of their behavior seek to minimize the possibility of them loosing face in the eyes of others. It is not about how much they love themselves, because they don’t actually.
They are not proving anything to themselves, only comforting the psychological mentality inside them — which is a scared, under appreciated child — while avoiding the extreme mental anguish they feel from even slight criticism from others
Narcissistic Behaviors Put Appearances First
Another surprising fact about narcissistic behavior is that they have generally no desire to prove anything to themselves.
You will not find a narcissist working long hours or improving their craft unless they believe that someone will notice them doing it. Because, ultimately, they do not have a high opinion of themselves. Their skills will never stand by themselves — in their mind — and so they work tirelessly and building the appearance of having skills. To them this is the only way to succeed.
This principle of narcissistic behavior can manifest in a number of ways, including:
- Taking credit for the work of others
- Blaming others for their faults and mistakes
- Talking themselves and accomplishments up
- Embellishing or outright inventing awards and recognition they have received
- Emotional manipulation of coworkers and family members
- Playing the victim game
- Spreading gossip and rumor that makes them look good and/or other people look bad
- Sabotaging the work of other people
- Faking emotional attachment or “love”
Narcissistic Behaviors Have Little Regard for Others
One last surprising contradiction about the behavior of narcissists is that, while they care about what people think about them, they have little or no regard for the emotional suffering that they may cause through their actions.
Narcissists tend to have very little if any empathy. This leads to them causing a massive amount of suffering in their wake.
The way a narcissist behaves, the glory and respect they crave is a zero-sum game. That means the more positive recognition that other people get, the less is available for them.
Thus, a narcissist will put other people down thinking it makes themselves look better.
Ultimately, narcissists play a fairly delicate balancing act, using gas lighting and emotional manipulation to make as many people as possible think highly of them, while simultaneously putting down anyone they see as potential competition.
Can a narcissist love?
No. Narcissists typically only experience “love” in a relationship by means of the ego-boost and positive self-esteem it generates for them personally. A narcissist will only feel selfless love if they are able to leave their narcissistic traits behind.
How do I deal with a narcissist?
To deal with a narcissist you must learn to work around their narcissistic behaviors, by setting proper boundaries and learning to respect their ego’s needs. You cannot force a narcissist to change, although you can gently reflect their behavior back to them in constructive ways.