Can narcissism be conquered? Would you like to overcome your narcissistic tendencies? While this disorder is a persistent one, with patience and effort, it can be managed quite effectively.
If you think you might be a covert narcissistic mother, check out this post for more information and the common signs of this condition. Wanting to treat your children better offers strong motivation for change.
If you are concerned that your narcissistic habits are alienating others and making your life more difficult, then you can confront some of those behaviors head-on. Making a conscious decision to acknowledge your narcissism is the first step toward rehabilitation. It allows you to reconsider the ways in which you approach both your personal and professional relationships.
Continue reading for some specific techniques you can follow in order to prevent your narcissistic tendencies from ruling the day.
Retraining Your Brain
Basically, in order to change a habitual pattern, whatever it may be, you need to reroute your well-worn neural pathways. The grooves tunneled in your brain that lead you toward manipulative, deceptive, and sullen behavior are set on auto-pilot. With some conscious choices and deliberate actions, you can establish new and better pathways and habits.
1. Practice Consideration
One of the symptoms of narcissism, in general, is that those with the disorder lack consideration for others. You are too concerned with your own self-interest to be invested in what anyone else needs or wants. With some simple techniques, you can improve the quality of your relationships both at work and at home.
Address people by name, and listen when they speak. Remember to ask questions when appropriate, and try to show some actual curiosity. Be interested in what others have to offer you, rather than simply thinking about what your own end goal is. Also remind yourself to respect other people’s boundaries and personal space.
2. Identify Triggers
Lots of narcissistic behavior erupts out of certain situations that trigger an uncomfortable emotional response. Instead of just reacting when you have those emotions, pause for a moment and give yourself time to think through it. You will find that you will be able to recognize your covert habits more readily over time.
For a covert narcissist, the triggers often include being criticized, which elicits the victim mentality, and feeling powerless, which sparks the manipulative and controlling behavior.
You will likely have several specific triggers that might be tied to certain situations and particular people. Figuring out what they are and learning how not to respond immediately will liberate you from some bad habits.
3. Manage Impulses
Narcissists have poor impulse control, and they often act upon their impulses without much conscious thought. When you want something, whether it be a material object or a psychological reward, you will run heedlessly toward it regardless of potential negative consequences. Learning to pause, like when you are triggered, will give you time to evaluate the importance of the impulse.
Covert narcissists, in particular, are often seen as greedy and materialistic. Instead of demonstrating arrogance, like grandiose narcissists, they will use possessions and a false persona to project superiority. Managing compulsive shopping behaviors or impulsive financial decisions will help you to overcome some narcissistic tendencies.
4. Deliver Honesty
All narcissists traffic in lies, and covert narcissists are particularly good at utilizing deception to achieve their ends. This kind of behavior, ultimately, leads to inner turmoil, a constant sense of guilt and conflict over tricking others into doing what you want or engaging in unethical behavior to get what you want.
Start to practice substantive behavior. Mean what you say, and do what you mean. Keep the promises you make to others, and stop yourself when you have the impulse to exaggerate. Conversely, don’t allow yourself to promise what you cannot deliver, and if you aren’t able to hold up your end of the agreement, hold yourself accountable.
5. Increase Mindfulness
A practice that you can implement to help you to overcome a lot of your impulsive, automatic behavior is mindfulness. This is the practice of staying in the present moment, rather than fuming over the past or scheming about the future. Mindfulness helps you to really listen to others, which prevents misunderstandings and bad feelings.
Create an “observer self” that will assist you in assessing your behaviors before you engage in them. Basically, observe what you are about to say or to do before you actually say or do it. Gauge your intentions and how it will affect others. This awareness prevents a lot of suspect behavior and increases the legitimacy of your motivations.
6. Seek Support
No individual is an island, as they say, and you are no exception. Narcissists often feel very alone, because they feel they are forced to hide their genuine selves and keep secret any vulnerabilities or insecurities. This secret shame only fuels the cycle of narcissistic conduct.
In order to break this cycle, seek professional and personal support. If you can start speaking openly about your narcissistic tendencies, then you are much more prepared to address them. You will begin to experience authenticity in your relationships and regain your sense of belonging. You might also be interested in learning about whether counseling can help, and you can learn more about that in this post.
7. Celebrate and Forgive
Finally, learn to practice self-forgiveness. You need to stop berating yourself for bad behavior, or suppressing those nagging thoughts of guilt or worthlessness. Remember that you are only human, just like the rest of us, and that your flaws and foibles should be forgiven. Forgive yourself and others with equal understanding.
Start to celebrate your humanity. Frankly, it’s exhausting to expend all that energy trying to convince everyone that you are better than the rest of us. Instead, revel in your shared humanity. You will gain more substantial relationships and more lasting achievements once you invest in your authentic self.
While narcissism is a tricky disorder to overcome, there are ways in which you can conquer some of your most troubling tendencies. Making the conscious decision to acknowledge and address your covert narcissism is only the first step towards committing to a better self.
The more you practice these techniques, the more your brain will automatically respond with honesty and genuineness. The positive reinforcement that you will get—better relationships, less friction at work—will only compel you to continue making these lasting changes.
If you think you might be dealing with a covert narcissist, check out this article for tips on spotting covert female narcissists.
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