I admit My Narcissism Went A Bit Too Far and I’m Healing Myself.

self-diagnosed, in retrospect.

Photo by Nastya Dulhiier on Unsplash

Narcissism is when you can’t regulate your mixed-up negative feelings which makes you feel depressed about who you are deep down inside which makes you act like you’re all ‘good and great’ and demand attention & admiration from others and you judge others a lot yet you’re quick to get offended & critical but you never give others any attention nor emotional presence [empathy] because deep inside you feel you’re entitled to people’s emotional presence and you view people as being there to improve your image and make you feel like you’re the best [exploit].

That’s my hip definition of narcissism.

Most narcissists are not aware that they’re narcissists; as in, they’re not even aware that they have all those traits and that those traits stem from their mixed-up negative feelings that they’re not in touch with.

So they project their anxieties on others but indirectly—there’s something wrong with others but not them—and others have to make up for their sins. And they expect people to read their emotions and make them feel great by asking about their daily activities and listening—which is naturally fine: but they never do the same back.

The vulnerable narcissist secretly covets the attention and admiration of others and feels depressed when they don’t receive it but they don’t usually act out. Instead, they become super depressed and develop a super low level of low self-esteem. They usually retreat and get upset when things don’t go their way. Introverts are more likely to have vulnerable narcissism than extroverts. Like standard ‘grandiose’ narcissists, it never occurs to vulnerable narcissists that others have feelings too and that they should give their emotional self to others.

Sigh. I admit: I was a full-blown vulnerable narcissist. While narcissism exists on a spectrum, some people, due to their experiences at home, develop more narcissistic traits than others to a point where it impairs them.

I had such low self-esteem that I couldn’t speak to people without feeling ashamed of myself. I never looked people in the eye. I’d compensate for the shitty self-worth I had by playing the piano or reading books all the time because aside from enjoying these activities, doing them made me feel great about myself, even at the expense of me not interacting with others when people came over for visits. I never asked people about their lives, their feelings; never was I truly open to their thoughts.

I did not allow myself to feel and show excitement about others’ stories nor did I let myself be a listening ear. When I interacted, it was me talking about my studies or the piano or something that I knew and when I listened I never truly did. I never saw people as people, with their own interesting feelings and goals and uniqueness, even though I understand too that such behavior on my part has to do with me never receiving such attention myself.

I never outrightly demanded people’s attention but I always returned feeling worthless and disappointed in others for not being interested in me, yet it never occurred to me that I never showed much interest in others. All of the above was never intentional— it all stemmed from modeled anxiety and twisted values I had learned from my surroundings.

Naturally, people grew to not fancy me very much, so my needs for attention and admiration (to feed my weak sense of self) remained unmet, which only resulted in me feeling upset and even more unworthy and depressed, and I withdrew— and missed out on a lot of opportunities, whilst studying abroad too.

You know, I could be a HSP; and my mom sometimes says that when I was small she thought I had been born with autistic traits…but to me, it’s most likely that I had simply taken after the people I meet every day: modeled after them; learned to be the way I was from the empty emotional landscape that was left in me because no one responded well and much to me as a unique person; to my thoughts and feelings.

Lucky for grandiose narcissists though is that they are charming and sociable fellows who only show their true colors behind closed doors. As a vulnerable narcissist, I wasn’t charming, I wasn’t clever at manipulating people to like and want me. In social environments I was rigid, worried, and polite; in my bedroom, I felt self-disgust, hopeless, and at times even dreamt of the afterlife. In short, it can be a disaster when you develop narcissism as an Introvert because you get the side effects of narcissism without reaping its benefits.

Where I am now isn’t the end. I know I’ve got tons of inner work left. The goal now is to be more people-centered, not manipulating people to acknowledge me because heck, life’s not about me! These days, I ask more and have more conversations about others, and don’t care if nobody pays attention to me. I’m learning to be there for others emotionally and the only way to do that is to find myself, understand all the cracks in me so that I can stop myself from being admiration-needy and so that I can start being emotional-presence-&-empathy-giving.

Indeed, it’s hard work, but one must be interested in others’ feelings, show acceptance and love towards others, be emotionally present, warm, express positive emotions, and really take interest in others’ growth, needs, and experiences of life. There’s no other way.

Until you try to do the above, how could you demand others to do the same? And to parents out there: until you try to do the above, how could you resent your kids for not giving you that emotional validation or admiration you secretly hope for?

P.S.: I realize that through this change, I’ve also become better at detecting narcissistic behavior, and my tolerance for such behavior isn’t that great. Inconsistencies such as people giving me the cold shoulder when I need time off for myself from entertaining them yet never making a big deal about their lack of enthusiasm at whatever I share; being critical about my ‘flaws’ but defensively bursting into flames when anything about them is being brought up calmly in the form of communication; instilling envy in my other relationships when they feel out of place yet denying that they’re doing so…these are just a few examples.

Afterword

If this aspect of my story resonates with yours, I hope you reflect on yours. Or perhaps you’re the grandiose type of narcissist, which means things typically turn out better for you because you’re sociable, manipulative, charming, assertive, and know how to maintain a super cool facade. To that, I say…I hope you’re truly contented and at peace deep inside.

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All things life, spirituality, healing, psychotherapy, trauma-related, & mindfulness. Occasionally food & poetry.

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ISJ

All things life, spirituality, healing, psychotherapy, trauma-related, & mindfulness. Occasionally food & poetry.