How To Stop Being Such A Narcissist

by Dr. Rick Kirschner on April 11, 2011

Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which I’ll reduce here to a simple ‘the illusion of self love through pursuit of praise and avoidance of blame’ set of conditions,  is destructive to clicking with people, destructive to relationships, destructive to organizations, too.   But there’s a chance for change if  you can own up to having the condition and seek professional help.

In the meantime…


It’s highly unlikely that any toxic or malignant narcissist will find this post even remotely interesting.  But if you’ve caught a glimpse of yourself in what I’ve said or in the references I’ve provided, you may be wondering what your options are.  In the hopes of getting a click with just one such person, and thus having an impact on all the people in their world, here’s what I believe possible:

Define Terms

One way to change your internal dynamic is to clarify the meaning of your word symbols.   Since narcissism seeks to hide vulnerability, it could be useful to define it!  What does vulnerability mean to you? What about it scares you?  What happened in your timeline to frighten you?  What didn’t you know then that you know now that might have made a difference?  Likewise, success and achievement, appreciation and recognition are big words in the narcissistic vocabulary.  What do these words mean to you?   And here’s the big one.  Special is the word.  What’s your definition?  Because everyone is unique, that’s one of the things we all have in common.  But what’s special about being unique?  Not that it makes you better (or worse) than anyone.  It just means your different, because you’re the only you there is.  And if you put that difference into service to others, then what makes you unique becomes what makes you special to others. For real.  And without all the drama and effort.

Change Your Referential Index

Here’s one of your problems:  You’re using external reference points to determine your internal state.  That makes you a victim of circumstance, situation and conditions.  Better to be the cause than the effect, so that no matter if you’re up or you’re down on the rollercoaster of life, (and you will be both, that’s what makes it such a compelling ride for all of us!) you can enjoy the ride instead of trying to climb out every time you get to the next downhill portion.

One way to do this is to learn to appreciate the downhill part of the ride for what it can teach you about yourself.  Difficulty builds character in those who embrace it.   And loving yourself in the hard times is a great way of taking the measure of your ability to truly love yourself in the good times.  Remember, one of the biggest problems with narcissism isn’t self love, it’s hiding the parts of you that you don’t.  Choosing to include them, to get feedback about them, and to love yourself through them, changes this dynamic.

Laugh At Your Mistakes

Instead of denial, anger and self pity, a key to happiness and connection in life is including all that makes you human.  Indeed, some of our greatest entertainers were loved and considered great because of their self-deprecating humor  (Do you remember Johnny Carson?)   So the next time something goes wrong, try stepping up and taking some credit for it!  And then, try to find the humor in it.  Pain is funny.  Irony is funny. And a narcissist making jokes about his or her shortcomings…that’s priceless!

Develop Empathy

I don’t usually say this out loud, but here goes.  One of the great side effects of the material I share is it helps you develop empathy.  It’s true!  My bottom line message when it comes to clicking with people is that if you want them to get you, you have to first get them.  So try this:   Make it a habit to have a minimum of a five or ten minute conversation every day where you express interest in what someone else is experiencing, and seek to learn more about that.  Turn every inquiry about you back around to an inquiry about the other person. Ask questions.  Backtrack.  Go deeper.

Invite and Explore Criticism and Contradiction

Develop the habit of asking for feedback, and when people volunteer it, instead of punishing them for it, say ‘Tell me more,” and really try to listen for how it is true.  In my book, Insider’s Guide To The Art Of Persuasion,’ you’ll find a section on positions.  Read it, learn it, and seek out opportunities to practice dealing with positions.  When someone gives you negative feedback, say ‘Thank you for being honest with me,’ and ‘Tell me more’ and ‘I’ll really give that some thought.’   When someone contradicts you, say ‘I’m interested in hearing more about that.’   Sure, it’s going to seem incredibly unnatural at first, but stick with it.   You can do this, and doing it will just show how truly special you are.

I’d love to hear your feedback about this post or the blog in general.  Until next time,

Be well,




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