Let’s play devil’s advocate here for a bit.
The best way to understand why someone does what they do is to step into their shoes.Click to tweet
So here’s my “what if they’re actually thinking THIS?” list to get you started. I’m not claiming that this is “The Truth”. I do think it’s close enough to the truth to help you to start imagining any narcissist in your life as being significantly different. When it comes to handling narcissists, we have to start by rewriting the “how we think they work” stuff in our own head.
In dealing with a narcissist, it’s easy for us HSPs to slip into the “nobody would do that / think that / want that etc.” mode, which effectively throws up a smokescreen that keeps us from seeing what is -or is likely- going on. So let’s explore some shocking possibilities, and note where you feel a tug of “that makes more sense than I’d like to admit about X”…
Devil’s advocate, right. How do you become a narcissist?
So, just in case you wanted to ditch the whole HSP/empath approach for a bit (yep, let’s pretend you can!). Or if you wanted to try out the “if you can’t beat them, join them approach”(ever notice how hard it is to either please or “beat” a narcissist?)… Here’s what you’d need to do.
1. Convince yourself that the world sucks
This is very important. You want to get to the point where you believe with all your little black heart (pretend you have one for starters) that there is nothing really intrinsically worthwhile and that anyone who tells you differently is just a smug and self-delusional liar.
2. Take what you want
That’s right. The world sucks remember, so noone is going to give you what you want. So, you have to take it. If you’re smart, you’ll recognize that, since nothing is intrinsically worthwhile, nothing is really worth having, so your best bet is to ruin other people’s enjoyment of what they have. Hey, they’re delusional about anything having “value”anyway, so you’re actually doing them a favour!
3. Nobody is your friend
You are not a friend, you don’t have friends and real friends don’t exist. That’s just the way things are, get over it.
4. There is no such thing as a win-win
There’s just one winner and many losers. Make sure you’re the winner. If that can’t be done, your best bet is to convince the others that they’re losers. This is easier than it seems. Most people have some insecurities and shame: play it, exploit it, rub salt into those wounds.
5. Give up on love
It’s a four letter word, that’s all you need to know about it.
6. Aim for praise, admiration and envy
You want to be praised, admired and envied.
7. Anyone who has something that you don’t have doesn’t deserve it
8. Lie to yourself
You’re lying to everyone else already, so why not lie to yourself too. It makes life a lot easier.
9. Never question your own (faulty) logic
You believe it, so it’s true.
10. Your stuff is always biggest
No matter how great someone else’s success, it’s always irrelevant compared to yours. No matter how great someone else’s problems, yours are always bigger.
11. You only sympathize or congratulate to a) to get attention and b) introduce your own BIGGER story
Other people’s stories are a great way to gauge what to say in order to get all the attention. (It’s not about getting a particular kind of attention. It’s about controlling your audience. You are centre stage, no matter what).
12. Put on some frosting
People are not completely stupid (where would be the fun in that anyway?) So you’ll have to lure them and dazzle them with some convincing bling. Remember, your bling is just like Santa Claus, it doesn’t exist, but people so desperately want to believe in it that they won’t recognize a fake beard when they see one.
13. If you can’t have it, hate it
14. If someone tries to please you, make sure you’re never satisfied so that they’ll keep pleasing
Remember, life sucks and you have nothing to offer others in the form of genuine care. So, you better keep dangling the carrot and hope nobody discovers that it’s made of plastic.
15. If someone gives you an inch, walk all over them
You know the drill. Get your foot between the door!
16. Pretend you don’t know what you’re doing
Remember: wolf in sheep’s clothing.
17. Never mind self-doubt
If you master all the above to the point of even being narcissistically honest with yourself, you might admit that there is such a thing as “virtue” and that you don’t have it. But, no worries, apart from the fact that definitions are always philosophically debatable, I’ve got the remedy right here: when you meet anyone with virtue (or who is happy – horror of all horrors) just pile a whole load of crap on them. It doesn’t matter what it is. Recite the whole bad news list of the week if you have to. As long as you can make them feel bad, you’ve succeeded in dampening their smug little whatever. Just remember one word: negative.
17. Find an HSP or Empath to “team” up with
They want to help. Suckers. So, exploit that. Hey, you’re doing them a service, waking them up to the harsh realities of life. Meanwhile, be sure to exploit their social intel as well. Sensitive people have great insight into others, use that info for your own benefit.
18 OK, now this point is kind of complicated
Even though everyone else is stupid, you might still feel inexplicably insecure and scared at times. And OK, so maybe you’re not that fantastic in every possible single way at all times. Obviously this feeling sucks. To make it go away: Destroy the things that bring out the insecurities. It’s those things that are the real culprit. It’s not you, OK? There is nothing wrong with you. It’s just the twisted bragging of others that confuses your emotions to think that you are “less than”. But you’re not. You just need to stay on top of the game by squashing the opposition is all.
19 Keep things simple
Granted, life can be confusing and you may almost lose your head at times. It’s easy though. Just remember: “I am right and others are wrong”.
20. Your mind exists to protect you and create evidence to make you right
Just stay focused on the truth: “I am right” and all confused thinking will automatically auto correct to state what others need to hear to see that you are right.
21 Don’t worry about who you are, just worry about getting what you want
Put this one on a post-it.
22 Give goodness your own little twist
Here’s a great way to “do good” and thus raise your perceived “virtue” and still get your narcissistic needs met. Offer to help others and, while doing so, either completely mess up (creating more work than there was from the outset) or use your offering to rub in the helplessness and inferiority of the other person. Get it? By helping, you get to show that you are better than them and you get to be virtuous too, because helping is by definition virtuous! Plus, you get to mess up big time and, if you get any complaints on that, you can then make people feel bad for their ingratitude (another bonus for you!). The drama that this creates is something you’ll be able to capitalize on for weeks (if not months!)
23. Happy people suck
You know that, they don’t. Do whatever it takes to make them understand and take their joy down a few notches until it’s bearable.
24. It’s all about power
You praise someone if this is to your advantage. There is no need for consistency. Switch allegiance mid-sentence if that will put you on the winner’s team.
Troubleshooting: What if you’re having a disagreement with someone but it turns out you can’t win? How do you change tactics without losing face? It’s simple: simply pretend you agreed with the other from the start. Just rewrite the whole conversation in your head (it’s called Artful Amnesia) and, if any questions are asked, just say there’s been a misunderstanding.
25. Throw lots of pity parties
A great way to get attention from others is to do the “poor you act”. Poor you: nobody understands you, nobody appreciates you, nobody likes you…don’t just think these things (thinking it doesn’t distinguish you from non-narcissists!) Go on about it, endlessly! The word is “recycle”. Recycle all your hurts. By retelling them again and again, you also make sure that you won’t forget them. Over time, you’ll have an endless repertoire of poor you stories. There will lots of natural transitions between one story and another. In the midst of one story you’ll be reminded of an even worse (read: better) one. This way, you could talk for hours! Ahhh, bliss!
26.What about the unimaginable?
Every now and again you might come across someone who seems unusually caring. Deep down you know it’s just a façade but you find yourself affected anyway. Here’s what you do: challenge them and criticize them. Just keep at it and, at some point, they will show their true uncaring face and not want anything to do with you. Then you can relax because you knew you were right about them all along.
27. Attack is your best defense – and at one point or another everyone is out to get you
Don’t hesitate to attack others, you’re just one step ahead of their game is all.
28. Say whatever you need to in order to meet your current goal/need
Argumentative coherence just gets in the way of getting your needs met. Just be in the moment and strategically respond to what is happening in the moment, without any concern for what you may or may not have said before.
29. Repeat the narcissist mantra: “my life is unusually difficult and painful, entitling me to take out my frustrations on others without reserve or limitation”
At least 20 times a day.
30. If people are not 100% with you, then they are against you
“In between” and “shades of grey” is for wimps and liars.
31. You crave attention
Here’s a way to get more: make yourself unpredictable. Make yourself into an unhappy enigma. Others will spend oodles of time and energy trying to figure out what you want. This will make you the centre of their universe.
32. As with anything worth being, you can’t just relate to a few points and proclaim yourself a narcissist
You gotta practice all of it. Sure, give it your own spin: no slacking though! Make your fellow narcissists proud.
33. Are you now (rightly) convinced that narcissism is a fantastic and superior way of being?
Well, too bad because you probably can’t pull it off properly anyway. (Exit: the narcissist.)
ED: Btw I think it should be called arsecissism. Note: When I am referring to narcissism I am referring to the full-blown extreme of anti-social (yet often outwardly charming) self-obsession that pretty much fools every HSP at (hopefully only) one point. For your own mental health, it’s probably better to overestimate it rather than underestimate it. If you’re caught in “it couldn’t possibly be that bad” thinking, then make an effort to emphasize the bad stuff. Really put a spotlight on it until the reality of the situation starts to sink in. Narcissists tend to have a way of “looking good” and remaining an eternal mystery to those they are “close” to. The air of mystery functions as a fata morgana. AS an HSP, it’s easy to imagine things that exist in others, as if they exist in the narcissist.
Also note that the inner pain and frustration, upset with the world etc. are not what make narcissists narcissists. What makes them narcissists is the assumption that they are entitled to structurally take their frustration out on others -and make the lives of others miserable- with no true regard for the well-being of anyone but themselves.
So, just because you can relate to the inner woundedness of a narcissist, doesn’t mean they are entitled to your active support and compassion. There are many people who have hurt and disappointment that needs healing, yet not all of those people take it out on others. As an HSP, you know this. When you allow yourself to remember, you’ll come up with oodles of people who, despite their inner pain, care for and truly support other people. Don’t buy into the myth that narcissists are more of a victim in this way than anyone else. They have free will just like any and all of us, and they have the ability to choose how they direct that free will.