Seven years ago, I found myself in an addiction rehab center and was diagnosed as a "grandiose narcissist."
Psychology Today describes a narcissist this way:
“The hallmarks of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are grandiosity, a lack of empathy for other people, and a need for admiration. People with this condition are frequently described as arrogant, self-centered, manipulative, and demanding. They may also concentrate on grandiose fantasies (e.g. their own success, beauty, brilliance) and may be convinced that they deserve special treatment. These characteristics typically begin in early adulthood and must be consistently evident in multiple contexts, such as at work and in relationships.”
I think it is important to highlight the word “manipulative.” Because narcissists also have the ability to feign humility and turn circumstances around in any relationship to give the appearance that they are the victim, rather than the perpetrator.
As a grandiose “Christian” narcissist, I knew there were certain things required of me to be the center of my own universe. There was a certain amount of modesty, kindness and spiritual activity that needed to be expressed to camouflage my self-serving mentality and meet my voracious desire for approval and admiration in the church world.
When my self absorbed rational eventually resulted in a destructive sexual addiction, followed by the loss of everything I held dear, it was time to confront my egotistical demons. I began a process of un-learning my narcissistic mindset and behavior. Doing so, not only changed my own life, but dramatically changed every relationship I had in the most beautiful way.
The first step for all of us is honestly asking ourself, “Am I a narcissist?” So I thought I would put together a short list of traits that may help locates us. So here goes…
YOU MIGHT BE A NARCISSIST IF…
1. YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF THE WORD, “EMPATHY.”
Ok, you may have heard of it, but you are not in the habit of putting yourself in the shoes of “the other” and carefully contemplating their feelings and viewpoint. If your “go to” is always how you feel or are affected by a situation, that must change.
2. YOU FEEL A CONSTANT NEED TO IMPRESS PEOPLE.
This is more than the need to post selfies every ten minutes on Facebook, although that may be a starting place of restraint for some of us. The need to impress is born out of insecurity and a continually pining to feel liked and approved of. In fact it’s more than just being liked. This is what Roy Baumeister, a social psychologist at Florida State University in Tallahassee put it:
"It's not so much being liked. It's much more important to be admired. Studies have shown narcissists are willing to sacrifice being liked if they think it's necessary to be admired.”
3. YOU ARE NEVER WRONG.
Even when you know you’re wrong, you are still right because something happened… or somebody did something… that made you wrong. So in the end, it wasn’t your fault. When we constantly seek to justify our actions and avoid “owning” our sins, selfishness and shortcomings, we are narcissist material. Owning our behavior means saying, “I was wrong, forgive me.” (no buts, ifs or conditions)
4. YOU DON’T THINK THE RULES APPLY TO YOU.
Narcissism is seen in our driving, the way we play sports and the things we do at work.
“I can drive recklessly because I have somewhere important to be.”
“I can kick my golf ball over a few yards because they shouldn’t have planted a tree in the middle of the fairway.”
“I don’t have to clean my dishes in the staff work kitchen… one of the secretaries can do that kind of work.”
Of course, it becomes much more destructive when we think the rules don’t apply in our marriage, the way we do business, or how we interact with friends.
5. YOU DON’T DO WELL WITH CRITICISM.
When your wife (or husband), your boss or your coach attempts to bring some constructive criticism, your first urge is to bristle and deflect. Or you simply turn the critique right back at them. “Well if you wouldn’t DO THIS --- I wouldn’t DO THAT” is a constant refrain of the narcissist. When you begin to see correction in your life as an opportunity to get better at parenting, husbanding, working or playing — all of a sudden, it’s not a blow to your ego — but someone caring about you enough to help you live a better life.
6. YOU ARE HORRIBLE LISTENER.
The entire time someone is talking, you are thinking, “Hurry up so I can talk.” What you have to say is way more important than anyone else’s opinion in the room. The truth is, a narcissist won’t muster the compassion or the sincerity to actually hear what someone else thinks or believes. It doesn’t matter. Because they already know what is right.
Sadly, Christians are notorious for this. We often tune out or cut off a conversation because the other person is simply “liberal” or “uninformed” or an “unbeliever.” May we all learn the art of listening.
7. YOU ULTIMATELY WANT TO BE IN CONTROL OF IT ALL.
Narcissists want to control their marriage, their friends, their workplace, their bank account… heck… the universe if they could. Part of learning to living unselfishly is embracing the gift of surrender. As Jesus taught…. being willing to lose our own life… and to engage in a tenderhearted posture mentally, emotionally and spiritually that will ultimately cause us to find the joy of really living.
Let go. Let others lead — it doesn’t have to be you all the time. Let others choose — even when you know you “have a better way.” Let others decide — because who knows… they might just be right… RIGHT?
We would all create a much more beautiful life if we would remember the words of the Apostle Paul to the Christians at Philippi…
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”
Philippians 2:3 (CNT)
FINAL THOUGHTS AND UPDATES:
1. My book has been reviewed by my family and a few close friends and is in the final interior design stages.
We are hoping to go to print before the end of the year. So excited!
2. I have space in my schedule right now for a couple more coaching relationships.
If you are struggling on any level with addiction, depression or simply can't seem to get life on track, let me know. I will personally guide you into a freedom you've never experienced!
We have some other exciting things in the works right now for 2018. Pray for the Lord to continue to lead us and give wisdom. Hope to share everything soon!
Lori and I love you all.
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