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Narcissistic Traits

Increasingly, the term; ‘Parental Narcissistic Traits‘ is being used to describe the childhood experience of a generation of adults brought-up in a strict and controlling, often toxic, sometimes religious environment.  Now adults; many of these children are seeking support to deal with unresolved trauma and suppressed emotions that may have shaped their lives and held them back for years. Children who have grown up, unheard and voiceless believing their opinions count for nothing, often become adults who struggle to express themselves. They are either lacking in confidence,  prone to people pleasing, or are over confident prone to passive-aggressive communication, as they strive to make themselves heard.  Neither of them, ever taught how to effectively communicate their emotions as children because their parents, and their parents, parents also didn’t know how.

These behaviours may have been passed down through the generations without question, delivered on a society widely accepting of outdated ideas such as ‘children should be seen and not heard’, ‘spare the rod, ruin the child’ at a time when expressing any kind of human emotion was considered a sign of weakness; often punishable by outrage, ridicule, criticism and even physical violence.

Narcissistic traits are often considered to be a condition of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD),  a mental health condition that usually develops in adolescence or early adulthood and is characterized by;

  • Persistent Grandiosity
  • A superior sense of self/Inflated sense of self-importance/ arrogant
  • Abuse of Power & Control/ Impersonally exploitative behaviour
  • A need for Excessive admiration and praise
  • A fragile self-esteem
  • Lack of empathy/ An inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs of others
  • Sense of Entitlement/Pretentious and boastful
  • A belief that they are special & unique
  • Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, Ideal love
  • Arrogant & Demanding
  • Reacts negatively/Aggressively to criticism
  • Encounter difficulties in relationships
  • Accept no responsibility for their actions

While the causes of NPD are not well known, and the area requires further study, many cases are believed to be due to:

  • Childhood abuse/neglect
  • Unpredictable or unreliable care-giving by parents
  • Unrealistic expectations from parents
  • Excessive parental control
  • Excessive praise for good behaviours in childhood
  • Excessive criticism for bad behaviours in childhood
  • Cultural influences

Recognizing the Impact we have on Others

Most people will display some traits that could be considered narcissistic from time to time.  Whenever we may be feeling lazy or tired and call on others to carry out tasks on our behalf ” Do me a favour” [ complete requested task as required]!

Whenever we take our loved ones for granted, expecting them to understand and tolerate our negative behaviours or mood swings. When we are feeling angry or upset –  when we lose our temper and snap, yell or lash out at the people we allege to care about most, expecting they will forgive us.  Or when we are acting over confident, bossy,  judgmental, belittling or critical of others.

We often fail to recognise these traits in ourselves, because as humans, its both easy and convenient to leave ourselves out of the judging whenever we are criticizing and judging the behaviours of others. All negative behaviours impact on the well-being of others and we must take responsibility for our part in that. If we want to break the cycle of negative learned behaviours, it is imperative , no matter who we are or what role we play in society, that we become observant and mindful of the impact of our behaviours. We must recognise and take responsibility, owning rather than overlooking, excusing or turning the tables, calling out and blaming the responses that our behaviours create in others. We are each responsible for our actions, and for change to happen we must learn to accept that we cannot control the behaviour of others, we can only control how we respond.

There may be subconscious behaviours learned during childhood that we are unaware of as adults. We will only become aware of these behaviours if we take the time and effort to work on ourselves and come to fully understand our internal landscape; necessary if we want to ensure we do not inadvertently pass on unconscious actions to our own children and grandchildren.

Lets consider Narcissistic Traits as being on a scale as shown below, with the Excessively Selfish, score at ten plus at one end of the scale showing Narcissistic traits and the Excessively Selfless, ‘People Pleaser’ traits shown as minus ten on the opposite end of the scale. Note the score of balance sitting at zero in the centre. The aim for each of us is to stay as close to the zero as often as possible. Acting with integrity, being honest with ourselves and others. Practicing self-care and voice our opinions, honestly, openly and fairly. We achieve this through the process of self-discovery and awareness.


The Mask of Persona

One of the most recognizable traits of the Narcissist is the mask of persona. The ‘Smiling Assassin’ – the person in the room, whose outward smile hides an inner agenda.

According to Carl Jung, “A Persona is a mask or façade presented to satisfy the demands of the situation or environment, and not representing the inner personality of the individual. The Public Image.

Persona is also a trait of the people-pleaser. The person who smiles and says “Yes, of course, I don’t mind helping out”,  – when in reality,  nothing could be farther from the truth. People-pleasers will try to convince themselves that they are being kind, helpful, and considerate, despite hiding their true inner feelings behind a fake smile. People-pleasers will excuse this behaviour as being ‘tactful, non-confrontational ‘not wanting to rock the boat’, – just a little white lie so not to offend’ –  in reality, they are not being truthful or genuine about the way they feel, much in the same way as the narcissist.

Whenever we display an emotion, that does not correspond with the bodily feelings within (the somatic experience), then we are not being true to ourselves or honest with others. Integrity requires us to be truthful and direct at all times. Not to make excuses for ourselves by assuming others will not understand us. Whenever we smile and agree to do something that we later complain about because we only agreed to it because we felt uncomfortable, obligated, guilty or too fearful to say what we really think and feel at the time, then we are employing the narcissistic traits of the mask of persona and further impacting our lack of self worth.

Rule number one – Say what you mean and mean what you say! The emotion on the inside should always match the expression on the outside. Some people describe this as ‘wearing your heart on your sleeve’, I describe this as being the Truth of the Matter.

We live in a society that teaches Pretense and ‘Persona’ over truth and integrity.

We teach the mask of Persona as a matter of course.

Many professions are responsible for promoting Persona – expecting people to hide their truth feelings rather than delivering a genuine, truthful response. Sales and Customer Service is a profession renowned for it. People are regularly rewarded for smiling and acting ‘interested and concerned’, while dealing with ‘difficult’ or awkward customers, when interested and concerned is unlikely to be what they are experiencing emotionally on the inside, Persona places them on the lower end of the Narcissism Scale rather than teaching them effective, assertive and honest communication skills that will give them important life skills and assist them in reaching balance.  Mis-communicating our emotions in this way is unhealthy for us, it creates confusion and a lack of emotional intelligence.

How can we ever hope to break the cycle of toxic relationships or teach our children how to confidently express their emotions when we are actively teaching them how to apply the mask of persona and hide their emotions as professional adults.

The way forward is to teach people self worth, and effective communication. How to speak the Truth. How to say what they mean and to mean what they say.

Through the S.T.A.N.D one to one coaching sessions, we learn to drop the mask of persona and break the cycle of miscommunication; teaching Confidence through Authenticity, Self Awareness,  Responsibility, Assertiveness and the setting of Clear Boundaries. I hope you will join me in lifting the Mask of Persona. We can change our lives by changing our beliefs.

Enquire about one to one S.T.A.N.D Coaching Sessions for Confidence Building, Self Esteem, Assertiveness, Boundary Setting, Responsibility & Acceptance. 

And Remember – How you Feel, Matters!