What is narcissism?


Shreya Raj

Psychology & Mindfulness Expert

A lot of people often wonder what narcissism is, what are the traits of narcissists and specially how to correct your behaviour if you are a narcissist. Here are the answers to all your questions!

Narcissism is the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one's idealized self image and attributes.

The term originated from Greek mythology, where the young hunter Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water.

In simple words, it basically means that narcissists are those who love themselves, not in an appropriate and normal amount and have an inflated sense of importance.

A narcissist is in need of constant attention and wanting praise from people as and when possible. It is when a person is self centered, arrogant and shows very little or no empathy towards anyone else except themselves.

But how do you differentiate between a narcissistic person and a person with pure and genuine self love?

Excellent question! Something to ponder over? Absolutely!

Self love: regard for one’s well being and happiness

Narcissism: excessive interest and admiration in one’s interest and appearance.

Characteristics of a narcissist?

• Exaggerated sense of importance
• Need for constant praise and attention
• Exploiting others, for their work, without guilt or remorse
• Bullying/intimidating others
• Lack of empathy towards any other human being
• Getting their way without any guilt or shame
• Believing that the world and everyone around owes him/her something
• Wanting acknowledgment from anyone and everyone
• Always blaming everyone else for their problems

Positive qualities of narcissists

1. Great vision:

Since narcissists think very highly of themselves, they have great visions, ambitions and aspirations for themselves and can make great leaders.

2. Charm and charisma:

Narcissists work people with their charm because they usually always get their work done and get their way in anything and everything. So they try to develop and build their charm. They have the aim to win, they may have charismatic qualities which helps them hustle and attract other people towards their goal.

3. Persuasive:

People who are narcissistic work very well with persuasion, negotiation and bargaining. Their persuasion power is strong because they are used to getting everything done their way because of their self-centered nature; so over time, their persuasion skills get built, developed and grow with each instance.

4. Overachieving:

Narcissists are overachievers as is evident with all the traits stated above. The boon there is that even while overachieving, they get a sense of accomplishment which one way or another boosts their self confidence, esteem, respect and self worth. A sense of completion, totality comes to them with each task they complete and there is no competing with those emotions.

Negative qualities of narcissists

1. Dangerous for mental health:

The reason narcissism is dangerous and bad for your mental well-being is because the traits which narcissists have: to go on extremes, the grandiose, high-flying image which a narcissist has of himself/herself can lead to unrealistic expectations from their own self and others, which are often not fulfilled. Also, over time such a person may lose friends and face a sense of loneliness.

2. Obnoxious:

That basically means that narcissists can sometimes be extremely unpleasant. Usually narcissistic people are good at creating and leaving excellent first impressions, but with time it becomes unpleasant to stay around them as they carry an air and environment of annoyance.

Also, a total focus on their own needs and wants, while almost completely ignoring those of others, leads to rejection from people at some point. An image of being unfair and unsympathetic then begins to accompany them.

3. No team work:

Narcissists can hinder team performance and work. Even if there is a good rapport between some members in a group which is performing a task together, usually the person ruining the tandem is the narcissist because it is usually him/her who does individual work and knows nothing about collaborating with others for optimal output.

In many cases, the narcissist may not even contribute towards the work but expect a share in getting the rewards or credit. This can lead to the team simply losing motivation or create a toxic atmosphere.

For example, when a person doesn't contribute the fair share towards a study project but comes up first to take the credit during the final presentation, other team members may either reject such a person or simply lost interest in doing the work next time.

4. Over-sensitive to criticism:

If a person tries to criticize a narcissist then, it almost always does not end well for the person who tries to give feedback because a narcissistic person thinks so highly of himself/herself that they see no fault in themselves and immediately become defensive when they are criticized.

Criticism, even if it is well-intentioned and constructive in nature can disturb narcissists because of the inability to see past their own short-comings and the obsessive need to believe in their own correctness.

5. Poor listeners:

They are very poor listeners because anytime someone shares something with them, they start with their own personal stories and opinions. They simply cannot fathom giving space to someone else. Their whole world revolves around them so it is difficult for them to listen to anyone else patiently, attentively and actively.

Ways to work on yourself if you are narcissistic

1. Set boundaries

It is very important to set boundaries whether you are a narcissist. Try to understand situations from other people's perspective and modify behaviour accordingly. You need to keep a watch over yourself and make sure you're not crossing any lines.

For example, if you've been asking someone for favours all the time, then offer to do something for the person as a gesture. If someone has been covering for you at work, then do the same for them when they need help. Make sure that you're not just taking advantage of someone (even if the other person isn't complaining).

2. Learn acceptance:

Acceptance is huge key in letting go of your narcissistic side. To accept where you are wrong, where you could have done better or tried something else is something everyone should do. You must develop the

acceptance that you are human and to learn.

No one can control the world around them exactly as they wish and any attempt to do so only results in dissatisfaction for the self and others. You need to learn to accept some things as they are and to see things from others' perspective.

3. Find a support system:

One must find a support system in order to overcome their narcissistic side. Strangers or acquaintances may not be so patient with you, but someone who loves you like family or friends could help you modify your behaviour and be patient with you.

4. Immediate action, no prolonged promises:

If you are a narcissist or helping someone you know move on from it, sternly put it in their head and yours to not prolong things and activities and to do it right there and then. Corrective actions are best taken immediately

otherwise they will always be on hold and maybe brushed under the carpet. Then, you might fall back into the cycle of expecting too much from others and get get disappointed and/or rejected.

Another advantage of immediate action is to the chance to see where you go wrong and where all you could improve and develop.

For example, let's say that your employee came to work late. Instead of behaving like your usual narcissistic self, ask him/her what was wrong and if there is a genuine explanation for the same. They may have a good reason and you could save yourself from being seen as an unreasonable person.

Narcissism damages relationships, whether professional or personal. It is best to start taking corrective action as soon as it is identified to prevent being hurtful to those around you and ultimately hurting yourself. Good luck!

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Discussion Board

Have you ever dealth with narcissists? What was your experience?

Rohit Chopra
Yup, in college and professional life. They not only spoil their own image but also make things uncomfortable and unpleasant for others.
Pari Laddha
Extremely Informative💯✍
Sachin Yadav
Completely agreed.. I am dealing with this same personality in my family. They have no respect for others emotions and image
Sachin Yadav
How to deal with these person and how we can help in overcome this in a positive sense
Subhoshree Das
Sachin Look up for Gray Rock method.
Abhinav Sharma
@Sachin: If the person's narcissistic behaviour is intentional, then we can try to reduce contact with the person to the extent it is possible. However, if the person's behaviour is unintentional i.e. he or she is not aware that their behaviour is affecting you badly, you can politely and honestly speak to them and convey your feelings. In most cases, an honest and positive conversation gets good results. ❤️😇