Is there a person in your life that hurts you repeatedly and just doesn’t seem to care? Does that person make life all about them and seem to ignore your needs? Are they constantly putting you down? Quite possibly, you are dealing with a narcissist.
Narcissism is a continuum, which means there are different variations or levels of narcissism. It is entirely possible for someone to be somewhat self-centered, but not a full-on narcissist. When someone is at the far end of the spectrum, and their efforts to feel special damage those around them, is when you have a problem.
Narcissists are addicted to feeling special, and they go to any length to ensure that feeling of being superior. In reality, a narcissist feels damaged, broken, unlovable inside. Driven by shame, they work very hard to avoid those emotions, often at the expense of others.
Here are some characteristics of a narcissist:
1. Addicted to feeling special. Again, in an effort to avoid the shame they feel, narcissists go to great lengths to show themselves and everyone else they are superior to others. Dr. Craig Malkin wrote a helpful book, Rethinking Narcissism, which helps explain this concept.
2. Having no empathy. Narcissist really don’t care about how other people feel. They are unable to imagine a situation through someone else’s perspective. This often is difficult for those who love a narcissist to understand. The loved ones try again and again to be understood, to no avail. This is a difficult reality for those in any kind of relationship with a narcissist to understand. You will likely need the support of a qualified therapist to help you learn to cope with this aspect your narcissist.
3. Charming at first, or out in public. Narcissists are very charming at first. They want you to admire them. Once you no longer serve their purposes, or you criticize them, they aren’t so charming. For those married to a narcissist or in the same family, this can look like they are very fun and personable when others are around, but very hurtful when it’s just the family. This is another element of narcissistic abuse that can make family members feel like they are the crazy ones.
4. Rules don’t apply to them. Narcissist don’t think the rules apply to them, they are special, and above them. For example, they often think they shouldn’t have to wait in line like everyone else.
5. Using you to meet their own needs, regardless of your feelings. This can look many different ways – but some examples include constantly leaving you home with the kids and not caring you never get to go out, or pressuring you to do things sexually you’d rather not do.
6. Gaslighting. Narcissists will manipulate you to make you think everything is your own fault, or that you are crazy. When you get this message constantly, it’s easy to really believe there is something wrong with you. You need the help of a professional counselor to help you see through the manipulation and rediscover the truth.
7. Verbal Abuse Included in all a narcissist’s behavior is most likely verbal abuse. They will criticize you, swear at you, belittle you, call you names, all with the goal of making them feel superior to you and controlling you. You do not have to allow people to speak to you this way. A good therapist can help you learn how to set boundaries in a healthy way, without reacting out of anger and making the situation worse.
Get Help for Narcissistic Abuse in Lower Gwynedd, PA
When you have a relationship with a narcissist, it’s often hard to recognize it yourself. You need the help of a professional counselor to help you see the realities of your situation and to learn how to set healthy boundaries to take care of you. At Lime Tree Counseling, we are experts at guiding people on this healing journey. Are you ready to break free from narcissistic abuse? Contact us today to get started. You can make changes; life can be different. We are here for you.