Friday, December 19, 2014

Narcissism by Hilary Silver

The Dos and Don’ts of Narcissism: Do You Fit the Profile?

December 16, 2014 • By Hilary Silver, LCSW,

Have you ever been called a narcissist? Have you heard it said about someone else? The tone with which that term is flung can be heavy with disdain.

Public awareness of the word and its implication of self-absorption and ego-tripping is on the rise, making it a popular putdown for the overtly vain. It is understandable that anyone on the receiving end of such an accusation would react defensively—in the moment, at least.

But do you ever wonder, “Am I a narcissistic person?” What does that actually mean? What can I be doing to warrant that accusation?

Rest assured, if you are asking these questions, you most likely do NOT fit the profile of a person with narcissistic tendencies. A person with narcissism is seemingly incapable of being self-reflective and lacks the ability to take accountability.
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Actually, it takes a LOT to be diagnosable as having narcissism. The top end of this spectrum issue includes masterful manipulation of others, a grandiose sense of self-importance yielding arrogant behavior and a sense of entitlement based on the belief that he or she is “special.” At its worst, it co-occurs with antisocial behavior and includes mental, emotional, and sometimes physical abuse of others or even criminal activity.

Everyone is capable of behaving in a self-centered manner from time to time; it is essential to our survival. But when some of these traits exist in mild form or if any one trait becomes a persistent pattern of behavior, it can still be off-putting. It may not be enough to be diagnosable, but the effect on others is certainly noticeable.

If you believe you fall on the spectrum, here are some suggestions for keeping your self-centered leanings in check:

Catch yourself having self-important thoughts that make you the center of the universe; believing that everything revolves around you and your needs.
See people for who they really are—not what you want them to be, what they can do for you, or how they can further your agenda.
Be attuned to what other people are contributing in conversations and stay with it; let it be about them while they are talking.
Recognize that we all have valid perspectives and though you may not agree, you are not necessarily better or correct.
Take responsibility for hurting others or for being wrong—it doesn’t make you a “bad” person to be imperfect.
Catch yourself hogging the conversation, and invite others to have a turn.
Pay attention to reciprocity in your relationships; make sure you offer help and favors as much as you accept them, and that you are listening as much as you are talking.


Think that your needs, wants, beliefs, and perspectives are more important than those of others.
Consistently turn conversations back to you or make comments about how the subject relates to you.
Befriend people for what they can do for you or for how they can add value to your life; other people do not exist to meet your needs.
Assume that your suffering is more painful than the suffering of others, or that your situation requires greater attention and urgency than that of others.
Devalue other people’s input, contributions, or worth because they don’t hold the same status as (or higher status than) you.
Dismiss other people’s points of view by refusing to acknowledge your own wrongdoings, or to apologize when it’s necessary to do so.
Misrepresent yourself by creating a false persona that is not congruent with who you really are.

Increasing awareness of your inner world and the effect your behavior has on others is an important means for achieving personal growth. Work on these things and the next time someone accuses you of narcissism, you may not even flinch, confident in the knowledge that you do not fit the profile.