Behaving Like You’re Always Right
Most true narcissists act like they’re always right. And sometimes they can be really convincing about it. They can project a remarkably confident image. Their demeanor seems to make a statement: “I don’t just think I’m right. I know I’m right.” But do they really believe such nonsense?
Most folks on the narcissism spectrum know they’re being pompous when asserting they’re always right. That’s right. Most narcissists know better, even though they’re loath to admit it. They definitely won’t admit it to others. And they’re very hesitant to admit it to themselves. Although they will admit it sometimes. That’s when they re-invent themselves and re-frame things in a way that lets them assert they were right all along even when they know they erred. But those at the farther end of the narcissism spectrum may have deluded themselves for so long and so egregiously that they no longer know what’s real and what isn’t. And they can even become so delusional that they can no longer know or respect reality.
Why They Act This Way
For a long time many professionals believed narcissists had to present a confident front because they were inwardly insecure. (Sadly, some professionals still believe this!) They thought that admitting shortcomings, error, or fault was simply too devastating to their “fragile” egos. So, they simply had to be right. To admit frailty, weakness, or any type of vulnerability would crush what little self-esteem they actually had. And for a small minority of narcissists, there actually might be some truth to a few of these notions. But not for most! (See also: Character Disturbance.)
Most of the time, the issue comes down to the horrendous lack of respect the grandiose among us have for any “higher power.” And truth, you see, is the ulimate higher power. If we reckon with it honestly, it has the power to grow us and set us truly free. But folks who are character disturbed take issue with the truth. Some simply deny it. Others are at war with it. Still others place themselves above it. For the most ardent narcissists, truth is what they say it is. They know they’re not always right. But to acknowledge that would be tantamount to removing themselves from the perch they’re absolutely determined to occupy. Dethroning themselves is not something narcissists do willingly. They refuse to even recognize, let alone voluntarily subordinate themselves to, any higher power.
At the outset of a relationship, the competence and confidence a person asserts can be quite attractive. And those folks who actually do struggle with self-doubt and insecurity are particularly vulnerable. Somehow, it feels safe to ally with someone who seems to have it all together and have all the answers. And it takes a while to realize how fraudulant such an assertion necessarily must be. It takes even longer to realize how subtly fraudulant a person can be in character. Usually, the jig is up when a narcissist gets so confident they don’t mind showing themselves. And that can be a really ugly picture. But even then the most die-hard narcissists won’t willingly capitulate. Like the old Nikon commercial once said, image, for them, is everything. (See also: How Did We End Up Here?
I’m going to have a lot more to say about these matters in the coming weeks. We live in an age of widespread character dysfunction. It exists along spectra of type and severity to be sure. But it’s without question the phenomenon of our age. And it’s at the root of so many of our problems. We must deal with it honestly and directly if our relationships, and indeed our society, are ever to be healthy.