Brash and vulgar narcissists naturally offend us. So, we naturally want to keep our distance and watch our backs. But charming narcissists are in some ways more dangerous. Like I say in In Sheep’s Clothing, dealing with them can be like getting whiplash. You only fully realize who they are and what they’ve done to you after the fact.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about disturbed characters it’s this: They all-too-readily take ownership of what they haven’t earned or merited.
The dominant thinking on bullies has changed dramatically over the years. Folks used to see bullies as insecure and cowardly underneath, with something to prove. But the truth is often much simpler: some people taunt and torture because it feels good. These folks enjoy fighting and provoking fights. To them, it’s fun.
You can confront compensatory grandiosity with relative ease and safety. The vulnerable narcissist merely seeks reassurance. So, the more you reassure them, the better they inwardly begin to feel about themselves. But you can’t deal with or confront the truly egomaniacal narcissist with the same ease or in the same way.
Egomaniacal thinkers attribute everything they’ve ever achieved solely to themselves and their greatness. To acknowledge any higher reality would only make them feel both dependent and indebted. The haughty among us want no part of that.
How do you confront a narcissist effectively? By not playing their game – the unwinnable war of self-justification. Address only behavior and its consequences.
How we regard ourselves and our personal power reflects our character integrity. Healthy characters don’t discount themselves. But they also don’t overrate themselves. They have a healthy sense of balance about what’s truly belongs to them and what derives from a “higher power.”
We all have distinctive, preferred ways of relating to others. And those distinctive “styles” of relating define our personalities. But when our very manner of relating is in itself the source of problems, we call it a personality disturbance. A style of relating to others so rigid, so ingrained, so extreme in its manifestation, and so deviant from the norm of a culture that it severely and negatively impacts a person’s ability to function well has traditionally qualified as a disorder.
Grandiose narcissists so wantonly use and abuse because they have little heart. They lack empathy. And they have little shame. And the more lacking they are in these things, the more easily they exploit.
Embracing the 10 Commandments promotes good character. But doing so also promotes healthy, intimate relationships.