“You’re so narcissistic, Mansour”. A statement I have heard countless times from friends and loved ones. This statement almost always has me running to Google to search the following question, “what is a narcissist?”
The Google results, of course, are always the same, “a person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves.” You may sit there in denial and think that the definition of narcissism does not apply to you. Well, guess what? Denial is one of the six core traits of a narcissistic personality according to the renowned human psychology publication, Psychology Today.
Columnist Preston Ni, a professor of Communication Studies at Foothill College who has published works about the four personality types and academic papers on the topic of effective communication, has attributed six core traits which are interconnected with narcissistic personalities.
6 core traits found within narcissists:
- Frequent lying
- Inability to admit flaws/denial
- False image projection
- Emotional invalidation
Personally, I can identify with all six traits. I find myself frequently lying about the most obscure things, denying my flaws is my favourite hobby, my image is everything and if people view me differently I can’t handle it. Rule-breaking is probably the one trait I’m on the fence about but I won’t dismiss it. Emotional invalidation is something every ex-girlfriend says I’m guilty of because I have made their emotions feel invalid. Manipulation has long been a factor in my life and sees me be nice to people so they will help me, resulting in that friendship being purely transactional with no real depth.
People with narcissistic personalities like mine will always be the first to ignore the facts and attribute their behaviour to their self-esteem. Psychology Today columnist Lisa Firestone PhD, a psychology expert from Harvard University and founder of not for profit mental health organisation Glendon Association highlighted the difference between self-esteem and narcissism.
Firestone writes, “self-esteem differs from narcissism in that it represents an attitude built on accomplishments we’ve mastered, values we’ve adhered to, and care we’ve shown toward others. Narcissism, conversely, is often based on a fear of failure or weakness, a focus on one’s self.” Alarm bells should be ringing for all my narcissistic brothers and sisters. A statement has never hit home harder than that of Dr Firestones.
Narcissistic personalities according to the Mayo Clinic can be attributed to three factors. These are:
- Environment: the childhood experiences of either excessive adoration or criticism
- Genetics: inherited from the mother or father
- Neurobiology: the connection between the brain, behaviour and thinking.
A narcissistic personality does not just affect those around you according to the Mayo Clinic. There is undoubtedly an effect on the individual. An effect on their relationships or ability to have a long term relationship. Drug or alcohol abuse, and even feelings of depression or anxiety.
I can attest to all three, unfortunately. I have not had a relationship go beyond three months and when they end its always attributed to problems which apparently should not be present so early. I have never touched drugs but can honestly say alcohol helps as a distraction. For one year now I have been on and off antidepressants seeing major lows and major highs from its use. That does not mean they do not work. That was just my personal experience.
Personally, I have visited a GP to discuss my mental health and come to an understanding of why I am the way I am. I’ve learnt a great deal by just asking for help. For example, assessing and reassessing how my actions as an individual affect an entire community. Also seeing things through and not stopping because the results are stacked against me. Walking away used to be easy. However, when I consider how me walking away affects those I care for, it makes it that much harder. Therefore I am able to put my own self-interests to rest for once.
Having a narcissistic personality is not the end of the world. However, it is not where an individual wants to be situated within their life. There are of course avenues to help.
Start a mental health care plan and talk about your issues. Headspace has an easy to understand breakdown of how you can do this with your GP.
Medicare offers psychologist services covered completely by Medicare. It doesn’t hurt to talk to a professional. More information can be found about what is covered by Medicare at Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney
Consult your friends and family, let them know you acknowledge your behaviour and are willing to change and they will help you.
There will be setbacks, trust me. However, you can and will make it to the other side a better person. Just remember that change within your life is for the individual. The collective will come to appreciate your change because you did it to better yourself.
Stay strong and reach out to the avenues mentioned when you’re ready to talk.
Featured image via ballmemes