“Grandiose” narcissists engage in a lot of egomaniacal thinking. (See also: The Egomaniacal Thinking of the Disturbed Character). We all want to think well of ourselves. But we can unhealthily overrate ourselves and our abilities. Narcissistic individuals don’t just have confidence. They go too far with it. They overestimate their abilities, power, and worth. Some only believe they can be and do anything. Others just know they can. And it’s not that they can’t do some pretty impressive things sometimes. The problem comes with how they exaggerate and their lack humility.
I talk a lot about egomaniacal thinking and how to confront it in my book Character Disturbance. The Judas Syndrome and How Did We End Up Here? also address the issue. Some have characterized the grandiose among us as “legends in their own minds.” And these egomaniacal thinkers mentally filter out anything they don’t want to see or hear. So, confronting their delusions of grandeur effectively takes tact.
The Inflated Ego
We need to have an ego. We can’t function effectively in the world without one. Moreover, some folks’ pathology directly stems from their lack of a solid ego. But you can also have too big an ego. When that happens, the word e-g-o becomes an acronym for “edging God out.” By that, I mean, having no room in your heart or mind for any “higher power.” Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean failing to see a supreme being’s hand in everything. Rather, it means not taking anything else outside of yourself into the equation when you’re assessing your accomplishments.
Egomaniacal thinkers attribute everything they’ve ever achieved solely to themselves and their greatness. They respect no other powers or influences – nothing “higher” than them. So, they can’t truly show gratitude. They may flatter. They may even extol. But they do so for show. They don’t mean it. To acknowledge any higher reality would only make them feel both dependent and indebted. The haughty among us want no part of that.
Confronting Egomaniacal Thinking
Confronting egomaniacal thinking effectively requires:
- You don’t make it personal. Don’t directly challenges someone’s sense of worth. They’ll only fight back. Address the thinking itself.
- You keep it objective. State the facts. Draw connecting lines between the grandiose person’s way of thinking and the consequences. Example: “I remember you saying this would be a slam-dunk for you. Now, it seems like things are taking longer than even you said you expected. Do you think you overestimated how easy this would be for you? Is that something you tend to do from time to time?”
- You confront with genuine care and concern. Narcissists are not easy to like. We naturally want to cut them down to size. And we want them to appreciate the wounds they inflict. But they’ve adopted a way of seeing and doing things (which is what defines personality) they believe works for them. Trying to make them feel bad won’t work. You can confront almost anyone about anything. But you have to make it only about behavior and making things better.
I’ll have more to say about all this in upcoming posts.
Character Matters will not air live Sunday, July 23. So, live phone calls can be taken. You’ll hear a rebroadcast of a previously recorded program.