Narcissism is a word that may be thrown around lightly to explain somebody that is absorbed with themselves or their own needs. Some people have this personality trait more than others, and if you identify with this it does not mean that you should be concerned. It is when these narcissistic qualities are so persistent in day-to-day life that they affect other aspects of life – such as emotions, work and relationships – that this can become a greater cause for concern.

You may have been diagnosed or may identify with some of the characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which is an extreme version of the set narcissist traits. Some key identifiers for this disorder include:

  • Viewing yourself as greatly superior and important in comparison to others
  • Lacking empathy and understanding of others perspectives
  • Continually needing admiration from others
  • Feeling humiliated, degraded and empty when receiving criticism
  • Often preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, beauty, or brilliance
  • Believing you can only be understood by other special or high-status people
  • Have a sense of entitlement about the treatment you deserve
  • Taking advantage of others to achieve something for yourself
  • Being envious of others or believing they are envious of you

The first step is being able to identify that your behaviour is starting to affect your life and relationships. Although everyone can identify with these traits in one way or another, if you relate to a number of these and they are starting to cause a negative impact on your life or the life of those around you – it may be beneficial to have an open mind and seek some help to manage it.

A psychologist can help by:

  • Identifying your current self-perception, acknowledging any misconceptions and working to develop a more realistic self-image
  • Provide skill-building exercises that will help you relate to people more positively
  • Identify the thoughts that are causing you to act and respond in certain ways, and help to alter these when they are triggered
  • Change negative or unhelpful behaviour patterns with more productive ones
  • Help to manage any unsocial behaviours in order to have better relationships both personally and in a professional setting
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