Finding out that you have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) may be very unsettling. If you’ve recently been told or discovered that you may suffer from NPD, you may have a distorted self-image- meaning that you cannot see yourself for who you truly are. You may have unstable and intense emotions, often lashing out or caught in hysterics. Vanity, prestige, and power often pre-occupy your mind and you may also have a shallow sense of empathy.
Other symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder include an exaggerated sense of superiority and egocentrism, a characteristic in which people think their opinions, interests, and themselves are the only thing that matter. NPD may also be associated with being unable to handle constructive criticism, for example. Perhaps you criticize others often but are unable to take it when others offer any criticism in return.
There are plenty more narcissist traits that may lead you to believe that you- or someone you know and love- is a narcissist. Although it’s very uncomfortable to learn about yourself, realizing that you’re a narcissist may be the first step towards not being one anymore!
First things first
Narcissistic characteristics of grandiosity put a person on their own high horse. Realize that we are all unique individuals and no one is better than anyone. Talk to the people who love you the most, and hear them out. To stop being a narcissist, be open to hearing about your own behavior. This may trigger feelings of panic and self-loathing, but remember that these people love you and are rooting for your success. The most important tip for dealing with narcissistic traits is to understand how your actions affect others and developing a deeper sense of empathy.
Consideration is a great way to break free from narcissistic tendencies. Practice empathizing with other people’s thoughts, feelings, dreams, etc. Bring it up in conversations if you want to jump the gun. Talk with co-workers or classmates, friends or family. Consideration never goes unnoticed. A few ways to practice consideration are:
- Speak to people using their names. You don’t have to say it over and over again, but when you start a conversation try to address them with their name. Using a person’s name will help build a more empathetic and personal connection.
- Be genuinely interested in what they have to say. If they are sharing personal interests or stories with you, be open to listening. You may not make friends with every single person, but it’s always rewarding to have meaningful conversations with the people that surround us.
- Listen as much as you speak! If you’ve carried on with a five-minute story about the weekend, let your co-worker do the same thing if they so choose. Often we carry on and on about our own lives but forget to check in with the other person. Maybe they need to get something off their chest, but you keep cutting them off and talking more. Cut them some slack, let them finish their story! Let someone else have the spotlight from time to time.
- Don’t be intrusive- respect personal space and privacy. Not everyone will want to share stories with you or talk for long. That’s okay, let them be. Eventually, they’ll open up, but if not that simply means they have their “own thing” going on. Likewise, don’t feel the need to tell everyone everything. A little mystery never hurt, but don’t close yourself off to the world. Making friends with others often details telling about your life to one another.
- Never make plans you don’t have intentions of sticking to. If you start making friends, great. But empty promises do go noticed. Don’t make promises you cannot keep such as attending a party or meeting up with someone for lunch. If something comes up, that is one thing. Life happens and people should always respect that. However, don’t make-up excuses and cancel or not show up. Always take responsibility if you’ve forgotten (because we’ve ALL been there).
This goes also without consideration. Being mindful means thinking before acting. Being mindful allows you to be thoughtful and considerate. It’s putting yourself in the shoes of another. If someone forgets their lunch date with you, consider if they have lots going on and have been stressed out.
When talking to others and offering an opinion, ask yourself how it is going to sound to the person you’re talking to. Being mindful is thinking about how you’d feel if your words were said to you or if your actions were done to you. In essence, practice treating others the way you would like to be treated.
A fun way to battle narcissistic tendencies is to get into some art. Art is a beautiful and creative way to get into the minds of another person and see from another’s perspective. Look at any form of art (movies, paintings, still life) without any judgment, and consume it immensely. See through the artist’s eyes what brought them to this masterpiece. Take a deep breath through any feelings of self-loathing that you may experience.
Maybe you’ll start a hobby of making your own art, if you don’t already. Art allows you to express yourself in any which way you can imagine. Don’t compare yourself to others, let this be for you.
Seek help and Support!
Psychotherapy may be helpful – and is often recommended. The aim is to help you learn how to relate to other people and to understand your own problems, and all of the above-listed tips. This may help you understand your own issues, which can help change and adjust your attitude for the better. Overcoming NPD is easier for some than others. Seeking help is beneficial for anyone with NPD.
Share these tips with others, and continue to practice this every day. You can stop being a narcissist in relationships, friendships, with family, and with co-workers. Just keep practicing mindfulness, consideration, and utilizing healthy ways of expression such as art.