Joe has come to an understanding that his habitual narcissistic behavior damages the connection between him and those he loves.
And he has persisted, until recently, in behaviors that could destroy his important relationships. When I feel myself sliding into my old habits, what should I do? This is a rare moment for a therapist because those who are truly narcissistic resist looking like they might need something from someone else.
Tough-minded (others often experience it as insensitive) is not always a bad thing. Problems arise when narcissistic choices damage relationships that the narcissist highly values.
If the narcissist does not change the harmful behaviors damages will continue to accumulate.
The narcissist must reduce narcissistic behaviors and increase more skillful behaviors.
This isn’t rocket science but it can be very frustrating- narcissistic patterns exist for good reasons and they can be very hard to alter.
It’s the same as diagnosing drug addiction, depression, or anxiety- people in ways that can be described by a diagnosis.
Likewise, for safety’s sake as well as for a narcissistic disinterest in others, the narcissist does not normally venture deeply into the inner world of the Other. When a self-centered approach hasn’t worked well for you, you will need to first notice that it isn’t working and then do something that is not self-centered. Connection requires more behavior that is engaging and open and less behavior that is controlling and defensive.
In this article I will use the word ‘Other’ to represent an important person to the Narcissist.
The Other is usually an intimate partner but the Other can also be a child, parent, close friend, colleague, or anyone valued by the Narcissist.
A narcissist sincerely asking for help is not common.
I told Joe “There are things you can do to change your narcissistic behavior patterns but it’s not a simple answer.
Narcissists learned at an early age that openness = vulnerability = dangerous.