Nowadays, people often throw around the term "narcissist" to describe overly self-absorbed individuals. However, it's important to recognize the distinction between people who occasionally display narcissistic traits and those who actually have narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).
NPD has a profound impact on every aspect of a person's life, including relationships, education, and career. In order for a narcissist to change, they must be ready for introspection and self-reflection.
Experts have pointed out that we all possess a certain degree of narcissism. Moderate narcissism can be considered healthy because it promotes self-esteem and resilience on your way to achieving personal goals. However, when narcissism reaches extreme levels, it can manifest as a mental disorder called narcissistic personality disorder.
While mild levels of self-centeredness can be beneficial, individuals with narcissistic personality disorder often struggle with considerably fragile self-esteem. They tend to exaggerate their own superiority and constantly seek praise in order to conceal their inner vulnerability.
Narcissistic thoughts and behaviors can significantly disrupt a person’s everyday functioning. Therefore, it is crucial to recognize the distinction between individuals with mild narcissistic traits and those with a fully developed personality disorder.
Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder often resort to emotional, physical, sexual, or financial abuse in order to manipulate and control their victims. Trying to reason with a narcissistic, abusive partner is often fruitless and unlikely to lead to any positive changes in their behavior. Additionally, people with NPD tend to believe that their emotions are the ultimate truth, distorting facts to align with their feelings. They may engage in gaslighting, causing you to question your own knowledge and reality.
While some individuals who exhibit narcissistic traits may be unaware or resistant to change, there are others who are open to self-reflection and personal growth. It's important to differentiate between isolated narcissistic tendencies and a full-blown narcissistic personality disorder, as the latter can have a significantly more detrimental impact on relationships.
With that being said, here are three tips to help you assess the possibility of a narcissist changing their ways.
The narcissistic continuum plays a crucial role in determining whether a narcissist can change or not. Those who have narcissistic tendencies but do not have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) can potentially change through the right psychotherapy approach and a genuine willingness to change. The key lies in their ability to self-reflect and develop empathy towards others.
For instance, let's say your partner displays narcissistic traits in case of a perceived emotional or physical threat to their well-being. In such cases, their narcissism might diminish once the threat is addressed and eliminated. However, if they have NPD, the process of change becomes much more challenging since it involves altering their entire personality.
A narcissist needs to acknowledge their own narcissism in order to deliberately alter their behavior. However, it's important to remember that a narcissist may try to manipulate you into thinking they will change to fulfill their own desires and maintain control over you. Narcissists who lack genuine self-awareness will make empty promises of change just to get what they want.
Nevertheless, if a narcissist is open to self-reflection and can accept feedback without devaluing or demeaning themselves or others, they might be ready to consider psychotherapy as a means to explore personal growth.
The narcissist needs to be the one to step up and make a change in their negative behavior. They have to recognize that their own dysfunctional or abusive actions harm others and show a genuine desire to change. Ultimately, they have to consciously decide that they are capable of changing their behavior. Although you can support them along the way, it's crucial for the narcissist to take the first step towards change.
Narcissism is often a result of having insecure attachment styles during childhood. The resistance to change in narcissists stems from their fear of relinquishing control and exposing their vulnerability. However, if narcissists are willing to accept responsibility, show empathy towards others, and engage in self-reflection, they have the potential to transform themselves.