In any given day, almost all of us show some signs of narcissism, and that's totally OK. For some people, however, it can get out of hand. When that happens, it's not only super frustrating for you the narcissistic, but for everyone who bears the brunt of your selfishness.
Which is, of course, the very definition of narcissism. "Narcissism can be most easily defined as a need to feel special or important," clinical psychologist Dr. Leslie Carr tells Bustle. "We can say that most people feel the need to be special or important, but with narcissists it is 'more so.'"
So how can you tell when your love of attention goes beyond normal everyday self-centeredness and crosses over into true narcissism? As Carr says, "Narcissism usually negatively impacts people when it starts to take a toll on their relationships (eg, other people resent their need to be the center of attention all the time)." If it's truly severe, it may even be a sign of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
While you shouldn't immediately assume you have a personality disorder (they are pretty rare, after all), it's always a good idea to keep an eye out for ways you might be making your life more difficult. If you spot some of the signs of narcissism below, you can take steps to reel in your selfishness. Or you can make an appointment with a therapist for some tips on how to cope.
1. You Have A Hard Time Waiting For Things
Nobody likes to wait, whether it's for an email, a phone call, or package in the mail. But if you truly can't stand it, it may be a sign you're narcissistic. As David Brudö, CEO of the mental health app Remente tells me, this is because you often expect special treatment and therefore become irrationally irritated by the slightest of delays. Sound familiar? Then it may be worth looking into.
2. Everyone Seems To Zone Out When You Talk
Are your stories often met with blank stares and yawns? If so, it could be your selfishness during convos that's putting people to sleep. As psychotherapist Kael Cockcroft says, "... every topic turns back to you and every topic turns to how you have done something amazing." This narcissistic habit can bore your friends and family — especially if they've heard it all before.
3. No One Seems To Take You Seriously
If you're in the habit of only talking about yourself — or worse, exaggerating everything and anything, as narcissists are want to do — it won't be long before people stop taking you seriously, Cockcroft tells me. If you feel like you constantly struggle to earn respect, this may be why.
4. You Often Feel Angry Or Neglected
True narcissism can be the result of early childhood neglect, Dr. Claudia Luiz tells me. So take note if even the smallest indiscretions leave you feeling super angry or upset. "It's really the emotional intensity of these feelings, their depth and degree, that determines whether there's been early trauma," she says. If your moods really start to impact your life, it may be worth looking into the past with a therapist.
5. You Expect Everyone To Bend Over Backwards
As counselor Shannon Thomas tells me, narcissists believe other people should make them happy and comfortable. So if you find yourself getting upset when friends don't rush to your side for everything little thing — it may be due to some underlying narcissistic tendencies. (And totally unreasonable expectations.)
6. All Your Relationships Have Ended Dramatically
While one bad relationship may be a fluke, take note if you can't seem to hold down any long-term friendships or partners. As Thomas tells me, narcissists tend to leave a trail of broken relationships behind them, and almost always fail to see themselves as the common denominator.
7. You Have To Be Right
I totally understand the drive to "win" an argument. But it's not OK if you turn it into a kind of sport. As Thomas tells me, narcissists never rest until they're right, and it can be be pretty darn frustrating for everyone involved.
8. You Try To Get Close To "Perfect" People
In perhaps one of the stranger symptoms of narcissism, you may find yourself sidling up to people you admire in an effort to learn their ways. While it's perfectly fine to idolize someone (like your favorite author, or maybe Beyoncé), it's not as normal if your admiration turns into obsession, Brudö tells me.
9. You Don't Feel Bad After An Argument
If you're narcissistic, you may have a hard time apologizing after an argument. Or, you might not even think to do so at all. As Carr tells me, narcissists tend to show a lack of empathy or remorse. Has anyone ever pointed out that you possess this less-than-flattering trait? If so, it may be time to chat with a therapist.
10. You Struggle To Let Others Have The Spotlight
Let's say you're at a networking event. If your coworker has the spotlight for a moment, do you find yourself scrambling to get all eyes back on you? As Carr tells me, narcissists have no problem with stealing someone's thunder. You might find yourself doing this all the time — and doing it willingly.
11. You Let The World Know Whenever You Volunteer
Hey, if you're proud of your volunteering, then go ahead and shout it from the rooftops. Be sure to catch yourself, though, if that's the only reason you want to get involved. As psychotherapist Karen R. Koenig, MEd, LCSW says, "[Do gooders] are often seen as the opposite of a narcissist because they do so much for others ... However, they can’t offer their help without letting people know about it and live for the praise of others about how charitable and generous they are."
While everyone is narcissistic in one way or another, selfishness can get out of hand — and may even be a sign of a personality disorder. If you feel like your narcissism is negatively impacting your life, it may be time to check yourself and change your ways. And, as always, the option of therapy is there should you want it.
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