Why would anyone want to intentionally think like a narcissist? The way a narcissist thinks is so foreign that in order predict their next move, a person needs to think like them. This is useful in divorce and civil litigation, contract negotiation, parenting and spousal dynamics, and team environments. Here are some common ways narcissists view themselves and others.
- “I am the smartest, most beautiful, or most powerful person in the room.” Philosopher Rene Descartes (1637) coined the phrase, “I think, therefore I am.” Narcissists don’t have to be the best; they just think that they are the best. This arrogant attitude exudes an enormous amount of self-confidence which is easily evident. Their thoughts become their reality regardless of the truth. This is similar to the power of positive thinking: thinking optimistically will bring the results they desire.
- “I am better than others.” Narcissists are constantly comparing themselves to others in order to eliminate the competition. This is why they are dismissive of people they deem to be weak because they pose no real threat to their superiority. Those marked for rivalry are met with a one-two punch. The narcissist uses their charming skills to lure them in closer and then attacks with a surprisingly cutting remark. The victim is caught off guard and now is easier to take down.
- “If I was ever wrong, I would apologize.” One of the hallmarks of narcissism is a belief that they are always right. Apologies are non-existent unless there is a direct and immediate benefit. But don’t try to convince them of the payback, they must see it for themselves. Remorse is viewed by narcissists as a sign of weakness, vulnerability, and even embarrassment. Since these characteristics are the Achilles heel of narcissism (it exposes their less than perfect status), they are avoided at all costs.
- “I have accomplished more.” If a person speaks of their accomplishments to a narcissist they will be met with minimization and exaggeration. The narcissist will first dismiss or belittle the person’s achievement to “keep their ego in check” and then one-up them by embellishing one of their own successes. All of this is done to keep the attention focused on the narcissist and not the other person. Ironically, the narcissist will even complain that the other person was bragging and deserved to be “knocked down a couple of notches.”
- “I deserve to have it all.” The entitlement philosophy of narcissism is exhausting. They believe that because they are better than or work harder than others, they deserve more. Of course they don’t actually “do” more, they just say they do or they take credit for other’s work on their behalf. As Gaston conceitedly states about Belle, a woman he wants to marry solely because of her beauty, from Beauty and the Beast, “That makes her the best. And don’t I deserve the best.” Belle, won’t have him but he refuses to take no for an answer and continues to relentlessly pursue her because of he feels entitled.
- “You must do what I say.” Narcissists expect immediate and automatic compliance with their unreasonable demands or wishes without any feedback. They are unwilling to listen to the opinion of others especially if it differs from their own. Any resistance is met with an intense angry rant or the silent treatment followed by a withholding of love, attention and recognition. This starvation tactic usually forces the other person to relent and do what was asked. However, instead of this bring peace, the narcissist demoralizes the person further by picking apart what they did. This restores their ego and reinforces the belief that they are better than others.
- “I don’t have to follow the rules.” Narcissists view rules, boundaries, and laws as restrictions for others and guidelines for them. This includes unspoken social decorum expectations, rigid human relation procedures, very specific driving laws, and interpersonal boundaries. They see no issue with others being forced to succumb to the limitations but they won’t be “controlled” by anyone. This attitude allows them to justify their behavior and maintains an untouchable status.
When dealing with a narcissist, keep these statements in mind and expect them to act accordingly, than strategize. This will make predictions about their behavior more accurate and interestingly enough, less frustrating to manage.