While many bemoan social media for creating a narcissistic generation, narcissistic personality disorder has been around since the Greeks. The origin of the name comes from the Greek myth about Narcissus. He was a hunter known for his great beauty and demanded admiration from his friends and family, sometimes to the point of death.
Deservedly, he meets a tragic end by looking into a clear pool and becoming transfixed, unable to look away from his own image. So, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is nothing new. Social media just seems to be bringing out the worst of humanity’s narcissistic traits and narcissistic behavior.
With that in mind, how can you safeguard yourself from becoming transfixed by your own image and avoid the same end as Narcissus? One of the best ways to prevent this fate is to look out for the warning signs. Here are 6 signs of narcissism to be on the lookout for in your life.
6 Signs You’re Narcissistic
1. You Aren’t Able to Admit When You’re WrongDo you struggle to admit that you are wrong? It’s important to understand that when you cannot admit wrong, then you are implying that everyone else in your life is wrong. That’s a huge burden to carry – the burden of always being right. Healthy adults recognize that in a conflict everyone involved has played a part. Certainly, there will be times when someone is more at fault than another, but no one is ever completely blameless.
However, as a narcissist, you can’t recognize any fault you’ve committed. Maybe this sounds extreme but think about it. When is the last time you apologized for a mistake you’ve made or something you’ve done wrong? If something readily comes to mind, then you probably aren’t a narcissist. But, if you are puzzled, trying to think back to a mistake you’ve made, then you are probably a narcissist.
2. You Can Lay on the Charm When You Need to
Narcissists are great with people when they need to be. If they benefit from a relationship, friendship, or business relationship, then they are all smiles. But, as soon as they no longer are getting anything from the arrangement, they will bail. How you can be wary of this narcissistic trait is by keeping track of your commitments.
If you love somebody one day but are bored by them soon after, then this is a warning sign. Healthy adults commit to relationships, friendships, and business relationships for good and bad. That doesn’t mean your feelings can’t change, but they change overtime and because of identifiable shifts in behavior.
For a narcissist, your feelings about people and things will change very quickly simply because you get bored or no longer benefit from them. To help avoid this narcissistic behavior, think about the relationships in your life. Do they change quickly? Are you committed to people and things that don’t always benefit you? If so, you’re probably not a narcissist.
3. You Can Dish It, But You Can’t Take ItNarcissists think they are the smartest person in the room and, naturally, feel the need to correct others as the expert. This willingness to criticize does not mean they are open to criticism. It only makes sense that if you think you are the most equipped, intelligent, and capable person in the room that you won’t be open to feedback from “lesser” beings. But it extends further than just criticism.
Since, in the mind of a narcissist, everything is related to them, any sort of negative emotions must be caused by them. This means any concern or expression of inconvenience from another person becomes a slight to the narcissist who assumes their irritation must be related to them.
One way to keep yourself accountable is by asking your friends and coworkers if they think you are open to taking criticism. Only ask people who you trust. Their answers will help you get a more realistic picture of yourself and if you are exhibiting narcissistic behavior.
4. You Think You’re Above the Law
Since narcissists have an exaggerated view of themselves, they don’t believe the law applies to them. As a result, they love breaking the rules and getting away with it. It gives them a sense of confirmation that they truly are special and are not held to the same standards as everyone else.
This might sound extreme, but it shows up in a lot of different areas of life. It might mean stealing office supplies from work, using the company card for your coffee, or driving in the carpool lane by yourself when you are late.
You don’t have to rob a bank to break the law. One way to check your temptation to exist above the law is by considering how you play board games and cards. When you play, do the rules matter? Or are they simply inconveniences to overcome on your way to victory? If you find yourself cheating at games as an adult, you might be a narcissist.
5. You Can’t Listen Because You’re Thinking of What You’re Going to Say NextA tell-tale sign of a narcissist is talking about yourself. It’s one thing to be proud of accomplishments and to have a clear-cut vision of who you are. It’s different to dominate the discussion so that you, your interests, and your accomplishments are the only thing discussed.
Narcissists rule the discussion, directing where it will go and dismissing or rebuking any comments they don’t like. When there is a moment they aren’t talking, they aren’t listening to the other person but are preparing what they want to say next when they retake control of the discussion.
This sign can be hard to spot in yourself. One way you can catch it is to think about whether people you meet know more about you or whether you know more about them. If you only talk about yourself, you will know very little about the other person. If you rarely ever ask questions and listen intentionally, then you might be a narcissist.
6. You Don’t Know How Far is Too Far
Narcissists don’t have a firm grasp on appropriate boundaries. This is likely because they believe they are above the law and, thereby, also above social norms.
An anonymous quote from Psychology Today perfectly encapsulates the narcissists misunderstanding of boundaries, “It’s your fault that I forgot because you didn’t remind me.” The quote, coming from the perspective of the narcissist, shows that they are blaming someone else when it was their responsibility to remember and bring the object back.
An adult should not have to remind another responsible, caring adult to bring them back something once they’ve agreed to do it. This lack of social awareness goes beyond this example.
It can extend to things like borrowing money and not returning it or going into someone’s private space or asking inappropriate questions. Narcissists simply do not think social norms apply to them. To them, social norms are inconvenient hindrances to the things they want and need.
These six signs of a narcissist are some of the most important to be aware of. If you are reading this article, trying to determine if you are a narcissist, then you probably aren’t, but that doesn’t mean you might not have some narcissistic traits and narcissistic behavior in your life.
The starting point for correcting this behavior is to acknowledge you have room to grow and need to make some changes in your life. Maybe this article has helped you identify what you need to change.
If you are concerned about your behavior, but still don’t know what to do, it may be helpful to meet with a counselor. Working with a trained counselor or therapist will provide you with someone who can give you an accurate reflection of yourself and provide practical advice and steps to help you grow.
“Selfie”, Courtesy of Rohan Pandavadra, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “The Woman in the Mirror”, Courtesy of Oleg Sergeichik, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Reflection”, Courtesy of Laurenz Kleinheider, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Looking Good”, Courtesy of Hannah Reding, Unsplash.com, CC0 License