Narcissists put out a brave, even arrogant image to the world, but they do this because they are terrified that you might see their true weaknesses. The reality is that beneath the hard outer shell that the narcissist projects to the world lies a frail self-image that is dependent upon constant external validation.
While it might be hard to believe, there are actually many things that scare a narcissist. These are things that can be used to exploit them or to understand them.
Narcissists behave as if the world revolves around them. At least, that’s the way they believe it should be. They constantly attempt to manipulate people and situations to both direct attention to themselves and to make themselves appear superior to others around them. They want people to see that they are not just good people, but the best people. They want to be admired and adored.
While annoying, the machinations of narcissism really mask a very fragile ego. It takes relatively little to cause their house of cards to collapse, and that’s why they are frightened of anything that threatens their carefully crafted image. They will defend it with a breathtaking ferocity. Read on to learn more about the areas of weakness in their false image.
Despite their bravado, narcissists have several areas of weakness because of their fragile self-image. Here are five to consider whenever you must interact with a narcissist.
1. They Buy Their Own Lie
It’s not just that the narcissist puts out a false image for others to see, they actually buy into their own mask. That makes it very difficult for them to be introspective and try to improve themselves.
In fact, most narcissists will sabotage efforts to get them to look within and make significant changes. They spend a lot of time trying to convince the world they are perfect and superior to other people in every way. Looking inside and admitting that there are things they need to work on would undermine the image they’re putting out there. If they admit to flaws, they will be just like everyone else.
2. They Can’t Commit
If you’ve ever dealt with a narcissist, you can see why it is difficult for them to find and maintain close relationships with other people. Narcissists basically see other people as extensions of themselves, and as such, they frequently and repeatedly violate boundaries and they make numerous attempts to use and control those close to them.
That’s because they fear their close relations will reveal the truth about them. They will air the narcissist’s dirty laundry, so to speak. That’s why narcissists are reluctant to allow anyone to see into their heart. That’s also why most of their intimate interactions are about protecting their secrets rather than building trust.
3. They Definitely Can’t Take a Joke
The narcissist has to be constantly vigilant to watch out for any ways in which their carefully crafted self-image might be undermined. That makes them hypersensitive to any kind of teasing or insults.
If you tease a narcissist or put them down, they will often stew about it for weeks and even months. Moreover, they will never forget that you did that. It’s also true that narcissists often see insults where there are none.
Since they are hypervigilant and hypersensitive, it’s easy for them to imagine that people are making fun of them when they’re not or that someone is insulting them. If they feel they are being made a fool of, that is like putting their weaknesses on display, and it’s terrifying for the narcissist.
4. They’re Afraid They Don’t Matter
Narcissists have a terrible fear that they will be seen as unimportant. They think of themselves as powerful people and often pursue positions of power as a career path. They want others to see the power they wield, as well.
While they want the power, however, they are often unwilling to put in the work that comes with it. They don’t want to have to work to be a leader, they just want people to see them as one. If people don’t see them as powerful and important, they feel that is because their weaknesses have all been exposed for everyone to see.
5. They Can’t Say Thank You
Most narcissists would rather die than express their gratitude for something you have done for them. They see expressing gratitude as a weakness; they believe it means giving up control over you if you see that they are grateful for something you did.
Because narcissists see themselves as more powerful and important than other people, they perceive the concept of someone having helped them — and therefore deserving of gratitude — to be something that knocks them down to the level of regular people. They don’t see themselves as regular people; they believe themselves to be above that level.
That’s why expressing gratitude is something that generates enormous fear and uncertainty in the narcissist. They will rarely, if ever, recognize anything you might have done for them.
It’s not easy to see the narcissist as a weak person. The reality is that they are riddled with weaknesses. Their arrogant, superior outer shell is nothing more than a facade that is hiding a frail ego. Still, the narcissist has constructed a powerful fortress to protect that fragile self-esteem, and they will fiercely defend against the exposure of their weaknesses.
Narcissists need to continually fill their inner void. They must seek outside validation because, on the inside, they feel empty. They are not capable of self-validation and because they need external sources to constantly boost their self-esteem, it puts them at risk for being exploited. That’s part of why they’re so defensive of even the mildest slight.
Ironically, in defending themselves with such arrogance, the narcissist inspires the victims of their abusive treatment to seek out and exploit their weaknesses. They are, in fact, their own worst enemy.
These weaknesses can be exploited or they can help you to discover compassion for the narcissist in your life as well as insight into how you might disarm their negative behavior. You don’t have to accept their terrible treatment. Understanding their weaknesses does give you the necessary insight to help you understand how they ended up the way they did.
To better understand the weaknesses of a narcissist, check out this blog article, “7 Characteristics of a Narcissistic Person.”
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