Many people with a narcissistic style or Narcissistic Personality Disorder are relentless. They rarely admit fault yet nearly always seem to find someone to blame. They can also seem so certain of what they say and do that those around them may come to second-guess themselves.
Dan Neuharth, PhD MFT is a marriage and family therapist and best-selling author based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has more than 25 years’ experience providing individual, couples, and family therapy. Dr. Neuharth is the author of If You Had Controlling Parents: How to Make Peace with Your Past and Take Your Place in the World. He is licensed as a marriage and family therapist in California, Florida, Texas and Virginia.
Editor: Nadeem Noor
If you have a person with narcissism in your life, it is more likely that you will become exhausted, overwhelmed, or confused than it is that the narcissist will back down. Over time, you may become inured to how extreme and costly their actions are.
One way to regain perspective is to remind yourself of the differences between narcissistic behavior and healthier behavior.
Characteristics of People with Narcissism Vs. Characteristics of Healthier People
- Shun introspection vs. Value introspection
- Lack empathy vs. Care about the needs and feelings of others
- Become hypersensitive to slights vs. Don’t take others’ actions personally
- Act impulsively vs. Seek spontaneity
- Spoil others’ good moods vs. Celebrate and share in others’ good moods
- Deny or hide mistakes vs. Seek to learn from mistakes
- Are driven by fear vs. Are cognizant of fears but cultivate hope
- Blame others vs. Take responsibility
- Stonewall or withdraw when upset vs. Communicate when upset
- Get enraged when criticized vs. Remain open to constructive criticism
- Pursue a win-lose strategy vs. Pursue a win-win strategy
- Hold grudges vs. Seek resolution
- Have one-way, superficial relationships vs. Have reciprocal relationships
It is helpful to see how far narcissistic behavior is from healthy behavior. Seeing how strikingly different the behaviors of narcissistic people are from how you strive to behave can give rise to three valuable questions:
- Do I let someone with narcissism treat me differently than I let others treat me?
- If so, why?
- What is the cost, and it is worth it?
The answers to these questions can lead you to set healthier boundaries with people who are narcissistic.
The contrast between people with narcissism and healthier individuals is also striking in the differences in values.
Values of People with Narcissism Vs. Values of Healthier People
Perfection vs. Growth
Attention vs. Connection
Superiority vs. Equality
Winning vs. Fairness
Status vs. Equality
By identifying and staying true to your values, you can hold your own in the face of narcissistic people and behavior.