Narcissistic grandiosity manifests in two very different ways. That’s because there are two types of narcissism. (See also: Two Main Varieties of Narcissists.) The more “neurotic” or “compensatory” narcissist desires your adulation. But inwardly, they have a poor sense of worth. Some label these narcissists, therefore, as the “vulnerable” type. What makes them vulnerable? Look upon them with adoring eyes, and they feel good. At least they do for a minute. But treat them less adoringly and you trigger their feelings of inadequate self-worth.
You can confront compensatory grandiosity with relative ease and safety. Vulnerable narcissists need reassurance. So, the more you reassure them, the better they feel about themselves. If you dare, you can confront their dependence on external approval. You can even inform them how to healthily value themselves. You can invite them to back off the pretentious image they project. And you can invite them to be more “authentic.” Then you can both start to know and feel good about who they really are.
Narcissistic Grandiosity of a Different Kind
You can’t deal with or confront the truly egomanical narcissist with the same ease. Egomaniacs have a narcissistic grandiosity of a very different kind. They aren’t compensating for anything or projecting a false image. They act in haughty ways because they truly believe in their own greatness. As mentioned last week, such folks neither can conceive of nor do they respect any “higher power(s).” (See also: Narcissists Can’t Recognize a Higher Power.) They harbor a nearly delusional belief about their worth and power. And if you confront that attitude directly, they’ll only attack and debase you.
You can effectively confront a grandiose narcissist. But you have to focus on behavior and its consequences. It helps to focus on the distorted thinking predisposing behavior, too. Factual truth can put a dent in these folks’ delusions of grandeur. But you can’t show animosity when presenting it. Nor can you get anywhere by cutting the grandiose narcissist down to size. That’s tempting, but also futile. It only invites their resistance. And it invites them to “dig in their heels” about how they cope. Just stick to the facts. They’ll try to deny them, naturally. But in the end the truth will trump all the lies. And that’s how they might eventually acquire the motivation to course-correct.
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