“Everyone is capable of change.”
We’ve all heard that statement at least once in our life. However, can narcissists change if they want to?
We asked experts to share their insights:
Table of Contents
- Any personality disorder, such as narcissism, is extremely difficult to treat, let alone “cure”
- The answer to the question is an unequivocal yes and no
- In order to change, serious psychotherapeutic treatment is necessary once in adolescence or adulthood if not in early childhood
- Be aware of the fact that this is going to be an awful lot of work with small results
- The path to change must also be discovered in the context of a relationship via psychotherapy
- Narcissists can change if they want to
- Change for them is all but impossible
- We first have to remember that narcissists are still human. With that being said, humans can change
- An interesting question, all depending on what the word “want” means
- Nobody changes unless they want to and are willing participants in the process
- A true narcissist will unlikely believe they have any changing to do
- It’s a waste of time and energy to attempt to persuade someone to change for our benefit
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Can a narcissist fully recover from NPD?
- How can friends and family support a narcissist on their journey to change?
- How important is it for a narcissist to have a strong support network on their journey to change?
- Can narcissists have successful relationships if they want to change?
- How can a narcissistic person maintain progress after achieving some degree of change?
- How can a narcissist measure his or her progress toward change?
Licensed Psychologist | Author | Speaker | Life Coach | Business Consultant
Any personality disorder, such as narcissism, is extremely difficult to treat, let alone “cure”
By definition, a personality disorder reflects an internal structure that is built around a particular personality trait. Personality traits reflect people’s characteristic patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
So, instead of treating a specific set of symptoms, such as anxiety or depression, the goal of therapy with someone who has a personality disorder is a complete restructuring of self.
In general, therapy for personality disorders involves years of consistent therapy sessions. Sadly, medication cannot treat a personality disorder, although it may help any co-occurring disorders resulting from a personality disorder, such as anxiety.
The problem with treating Narcissistic Personality Disorder, also known as NPD, is that since a primary characteristic of narcissism is inflated self-esteem, inability to recognize any faults, or take any responsibility for actions.
As a result, most people who come into treatment for NPD do so because a partner or family member has issued an ultimatum, such as threatening to leave the relationship if the narcissist does not seek treatment.
Consequently, a narcissist is generally not looking to make any meaningful change but is simply going through the motions to placate someone else.
Because narcissists exhibit a lack of insight into their behavior, they are not motivated for treatment because they don’t think they NEED any treatment! Also, narcissists have difficulties with empathy and taking another’s perspective, so group or family therapy will likely not be effective.
Of course, there is the possibility that narcissists can be taught to respond in an appropriate way to others, but without significant internal motivation for doing so, these surface-level behavioral changes are unlikely to stick.
Dr. Steven M. Sultanoff
Clinical Psychologist | Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist | Professor, Pepperdine University | Professional Speaker, Humor Matters
The answer to the question is an unequivocal yes and no
Narcissism is a deeply rooted personality disorder that is highly resistant to change. I have treated countless narcissists in my 30 years as a practicing psychologist, and while I have seen change, the change is almost exclusively limited to behavioral change and not emotional change.
The internal fabric of the narcissist remains relatively stable but his/her (in my experience most narcissists are men) ability to “act” differently (if desired) is possible.
For example, imagine a narcissistic male in therapy with a female partner. She is frustrated that he is so self-centered and self-oriented that she feels discounted and disregarded.
Related: Selfish vs Self-Centered vs Self-Absorbed vs Narcissist. What Is the Difference?
Assuming he wants to please her for the sake of the relationship, then he can learn other-oriented behaviors. He can consciously choose to bring her flowers, take her out, say loving words to her, but generally, these are behaviors that are not motivated by the emotions of caring and compassion but are motivated by the desire to “do it right” for the benefit of himself and the relationship.
He is not taking these actions out of love but out of fear of losing the relationship or the desire to keep the relationship. He is not really motivated by the empathy and caring that most partners want. He can do the actions but does not feel the love.
In general, narcissists have an extremely hard time seeing the world through anyone else’s eyes. They are focused on the world through their eyes and cannot see the other side and in fact, mostly cannot understand why others do not see it the correct way…their way.
To answer the question “can they change if they want to,” the yes part is that they can learn to “behave” in ways that others desire them, but generally they do not ever develop a sense of caring, love, or compassion for the other.
Also, the deep-seated rage that they experience will likely remain and surface at times that their “superiority” is questioned or challenged by others or the environment.
To consider this complex question of whether narcissists can change, it’s important to first distinguish if the person has a full-blown NarcissisticPersonality Disorder or some narcissistic traits. Let’s look at the characteristics of the full-blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior) need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
- Has a grandiose sense of self-importance(e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).
- Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
- Believes that he or she is ‘special’ and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
- Requires excessive admiration.
- Has a sense of entitlement (i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations).
- Is interpersonally exploitative (i.e. takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends).
- Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
- Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
- Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.
If the person has five of these traits so that NPD is diagnosed, it would be more difficult to change than if he or she has less but it is also essential to evaluate the particular characteristics when deciding if the change is possible.
Two particular characteristics are exceedingly more difficult to change than others: a sense of entitlement and a lack of empathy.
A sense of entitlement may have deep roots from when the person was raised as exceptionally special, never outgrowing the early normal grandiosity children experience during their first three years.
In normal development, the child learns to accept and understand a sense of reality where they are not more important than others. Even if they are exceptional in some precocious way such as a child prodigy with unusual intelligence or a child with unusual talents or beauty, they may know they are different which gives them unique notice but that doesn’t make them a better human being.
If however, they are treated too differently which can be either or both exciting or disabling making them an outlier, example, this needs to be understood in early childhood so the person can adapt to the rest of the world.
Regardless of their uniqueness, they have to learn how to get along with others who are different than they are in many ways and meet the basic cultural norms of living in everyday society.
An unempathic self-entitled narcissist has difficulty with this because he or she sees him or herself as distinctly above others and more deserving of special treatment and regard. Their lack of empathy or regard and recognition for others’ feelings, beliefs, and intentions results in deep-rooted self-centeredness.
Although the person may be charming, a natural leader and influential having many followers, their capacity for enduring one on one relationships will be in disarray because they most importantly do not know how to consider others’ feelings and needs.
They may hold significant positions, have well-established wealth and status yet this in no way ensures they are in any way capable of understanding others and actually caring about them.
This person’s cerebral cortex may in fact even be abnormal if one were to give the man an fMRI.
In order to change, serious psychotherapeutic treatment is necessary once in adolescence or adulthood if not in early childhood
This requires a talented psychotherapist trained specifically in the treatment of NPD. But why should a self-entitled unempathic person seek such treatment and know the importance of change nevertheless want it?
As a child, their parents, at least one, may have NPD as well. This parent may find their child difficult to manage due to exceedingly self-centered behaviors but may over-indulge their child because he or she gives this narcissistic parent a greater sense of self-importance.
Related: How a Narcissistic Parent Affects a Child
This parent regularly indulges and excuses their self-centered child because the child is viewed as more important which supports the parent’s view of self-importance.
This parent is as unlikely to seek therapy for their child as they are to seek it for themselves. This parent will dismiss out of hand the recommendations and criticisms made by others who in fact may care about the child such as another parent, teacher, coach, or others in benign authority who know this child is actually suffering as a misfit, outlier, outcast, or loner, regardless of special talents that may lead to standing out and excelling in unusual ways.
To seek treatment, someone with NPD or at least a lack of empathy must be suffering enough to want help or as an adult may have a significant other who threatens to leave them even if married and dependent on their recognition or wealth.
A deep and sustained feeling of loneliness accompanied by depression and anxiety may result, however, so that such feelings of alienation may lead a person to seek help if not knowingly seek change, per se.
This is a person who wants to feel others are within his or her control and will view the following basic rules of therapeutic intervention such as a specific time limit on sessions as surrendering that control.
A talented therapist understands this will happen almost immediately and the narcissist may lie, cajole, or stretch the limits of the therapist always halfway out the door, but the therapist understands this and even empathizes with this as an unusual sense of helplessness and powerlessness.
This exceptionally empathic therapist will recognize this patient’s impulsive wish to flee out of a sense of actual fear of loss of control undermining their usual sense of well-being, but out of such sincere understanding may be able to hold the narcissist in the treatment because for the first time the narcissist feels unusually understood and less alone.
This takes time and persistence by the therapist and now the patient who is very slowly learning he or she can’t fool the therapist, lie and cajole or even influence the therapist, but is being cared for the first time in their life.
In my experience after decades of intense training and giving treatment as a psychoanalyst and psychoanalytic therapist I have discovered that many children with untoward but nonviolent grandiose behaviors (temper tantrums, defiance of authorities, antisocial behavior with peers), adolescents, and adults with these characteristics can indeed change minimally by learning how to modify their behavior without deep understanding but at least attain the ability to get along with others and maintain relationships.
In more successful treatment the patient actually gains the ability to become introspective, understanding themselves, able to rework their sense of self and identity and gain the capacity for empathy.
This not only leads to enduring relationships but secures a sense of self that is realistic, capable of compassion towards oneself and others, and mostly free from depression and disabling anxiety.
Why does this treatment work?
Clearly, radical personality change occurs in the latter scenario described above that goes beyond just behavioral change. This may be a person who tells me early on something like, “I don’t know who I am.”
Through therapeutic intervention, the person slowly becomes able to reflect upon themselves, see with desperation their shortcomings and alienation and severe sense of aloneness and emptiness despite moderate or even substantial successes in the world.
Their outward demeanor of superiority is understood as a defense against a great sense of inferiority that becomes conscious and thus available for discussion and compassion.
At the close of such treatment, I hear authentic statements such as, “You are the first person who ever understood and listened to me who I became able to trust.” The patient even authentically wishes me well in the future with a sincerity that was impossible when I first met this unfortunate soul.
I purposefully say unfortunate soul because narcissists are so derided and considered awful people who do hurt others often mercilessly that to recognize their personalities are so destructive to the self requires genuine compassion that is unusual but needed by the therapist who knows at the outset he or she may at first be treated ruthlessly, arrogantly, and rudely with the confusing anger the narcissist bears.
It is the recognition by another sincere and stable person who consistently appreciates that the narcissist’s outward personality style conceals deep desperation, feelings of emptiness, and despair is what brings about trust and change.
International Brain Change and Behavior Expert
Be aware of the fact that this is going to be an awful lot of work with small results
There isn’t an imbalance, disorder, dis-regulation, in existence – whether it’s physical or mental or both – that can’t be improved from its place of prognosis. That is, you can always make it better; you can always shoot for optimal function. You can also make it worse.
The environment and the things that you try have an affect..
However, when it comes to narcissistic personality disorder, one of the biggest challenges is what makes a person reach for positive change is usually the correct motivator. That’s hard to find because you’re asking someone to reach outside of their norm and likely lose their secondary gains.
For example, someone with a narcissistic personality disorder might have the secondary gain of everybody giving them what they want because they don’t want to deal with how they act when they don’t get it.
That’s very difficult to break down and then have the person choose to change how they think. Change how they empathize.
Then, there’s also the physiological reality that the narcissist is narcissistic for a reason. It could be physiologically based in its origins but even if it wasn’t, it would be by the time they get a diagnosis.
However, they’ve progressed into this disorder, whatever its origins, it will have become physiological. So you have to address both the psychological component and the physiological component.
To put that in plain English: you want to be aware of the fact that this is going to be an awful lot of work with small results. Be aware of the cost-benefit ratio. The cost is the effort and attention and emotional strain that all the people around the narcissist will put into trying to create change. And, unfortunately, this attention can also reinforce the problem.
So as is true with many disorders, one of the best ways is to pull away. To not try to change the person while at the same time laying out a path that enables them to change themself. But even that won’t work unless there’s a motivator that the person themselves grabs onto a reason to try and be less than the center of everyone’s world.
Sometimes this happens when the narcissist realizes that he/she is more noticed through acts of service than when asking for service. There’s a small window of possibility there.
If everybody stops trying and stops catering to them, stops enabling the disorder, then because the NPD (narcissistic personality disorder) person is driven to be catered and paid attention to, there is a chasm that can open up and make it possible to teach empathy.
Keep in mind that limits still exist from within the physiological reality of the person. Some parts of the brain (for example, the right supramarginal gyrus) must function correctly to experience appropriate levels of empathy. Empathy is one of the challenges in NPD.
This physiological preset means that even when the NDP person becomes very empathetic for them, it will be less empathetic than someone who never had the disorder in the first place.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
In addressing the matter of whether or not a narcissist has the ability to change, it is imperative that one, not only understands the nature of narcissism but also clearly understands the origins or its distinct roots.
While it is certainly within the realm of possibility that a person can be genetically predisposed to narcissism, most theorists focus on dysfunctional early childhood relationships with parental figures, and something called a narcissistic injury, as the basis for the later development of narcissism.
Narcissistic-producing parents are likely narcissists themselves. As such, they are consumed with their own constant need for validation. As such, rather than regarding the child as a separate, unique individual, the child is treated as an extension of the parent and exists to mirror the parent and fulfill the needs of the parent.
This leads to the child being emotionally deprived, and narcissistically injured. It is a deep, enduring wound and the child generally spends a lifetime looking to others to heal the wound or make up for the vast deprivation.
To reference a song by K.D. Lang, narcissism is marked by a constant craving. It is an unquenchable thirst and never satisfied craving for the validation that was not received during crucial stages of a child’s mental and emotional development.
Most people assume that narcissists are arrogant, when, in fact, they project the opposite of what they feel inside, which is a deep sense of inferiority. Their grandiosity is their shield. Their preoccupation with unlimited success, power, brilliance, and ideal beauty belies a sense of inner powerlessness.
Sometimes, in a desperate effort to take back the power they were deprived of in childhood, narcissists engage in a pattern of coercive control, marked by domination and oppression of another person.
This assertion of control via coercion is manifested by authoritarian demands/commands; assault (and/or threats of assault); humiliation; punishment (or threats of punishment); shaming and the use of various forms of intimidation to gain the upper hand in a relationship.
The goal is to instill a sufficient level of fear in the other person, that they will obey commands, and will do whatever they’re told to do, without complaining, or reporting the behavior to authorities. Gaining the loyalty and servitude of the person they seek to dominate allows them a sense of pseudo validation.
The true sense of validation, they so desperately required in childhood, must be offered freely, rather than being a product of coercion. Most narcissists are aware, on some level, that this is the case, so they remain in a state of perpetual deprivation, and can never seem to be satisfied.
The path to change must also be discovered in the context of a relationship via psychotherapy
Since a narcissistic person is operating off of a sense of profound emotional deprivation, and is, in effect, a walking embodiment of a narcissistic injury or wound that occurred in the context of a deeply dysfunctional parental relationship, the path to change must also be discovered in the context of a relationship. That relationship is most likely to be found via psychotherapy.
The treatment for narcissism in psychotherapy is the establishment of conditions that lead the narcissistically wounded individual to a corrective emotional experience.
Instead of mirroring the grandiosity presented to the psychotherapist, the psychotherapist offers genuine validation, by first acknowledging, respecting and validating the wound, and then treating the wound, and the wounded person with empathy and compassion.
The psychotherapist, in effect, re-parents the narcissistic person with unconditional positive regard, in which the person is validated as separate and unique, with unique thoughts, feelings and a unique personal history, marked by a painful disruption in their psychological development.
Narcissism is a defensive structure, aimed at protecting the ego from further injury. It comes complete with a script. The character assumes a role, based on a false self.
In therapy, the search is on for the real self, hidden beneath the narcissistic facade.
In summary, a narcissistic individual can change, but it will take a miracle—-a miracle, likely fueled, propelled along, in large part, by psychotherapy that affords the wounded client a corrective emotional experience.
The client and psychotherapist work together on writing a new “script.” “Lines” in the new “script” are established on the basis of the real sense. They are guided by authenticity and spontaneity.
The narcissistic shield is replaced with a real person that is freshly empowered. The false is replaced by the real deal. The old false self is shed. What was feared dead has come to life. All is new.
Dr. Cali Estes, PhD, MCAP, MAC, ICADC
Psychologist | Cognitive Behavioral Therapist | Celebrity Addiction Specialist | Founder, The Addictions Coach
Narcissists can change if they want to
I will go against the popular opinion and state that yes, narcissists can change if they want to, or if the stakes are high enough. Very similar to its opposing diagnosis, Borderline Personality Disorder, a person that is diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder can learn to change, if they choose to.
One of the reasons they don’t change is that they end up dating or marrying their opposing personality and it feeds into their disorder.
To change, there must be a strong desire and a goal. For example, there has to be something or someone just quite out of reach and all the manipulation, lying, and persuasion won’t get them the thing they want. Their acting out is met with being ignored, or worse yet a turn-off for the person they are trying to woo.
The NPD client then learns that he or she must change their behavior to get the person or object. Not only is it uncomfortable for them, but they learn it can be done and it is now expected that they behave in this new manner.
So yes, the Narcissistic person can change, if they want to.
Lawyer | Author, “Negotiate Like YOU M.A.T.T.E.R.”
Change implies there was something wrong with the person in the first place.
This is inherently the issue with narcissists. They are resistant to admitting that they did anything wrong or that there is something amiss within them. The reason is that they have no sense of self.
Sometime during a critical point of the foundation during their childhoods, they were subjected to some sort of trauma, neglect, or overindulgence which caused them to come to the conclusion that they weren’t loveable. When that happened, the great quest for external validation and narcissistic supply began.
Narcissists, by their very natures, employ toxic cocktails of a sense of entitlement, need for admiration, and a grandiose sense of self-importance as a means to try to feel valuable in the world.
This is all coupled with a complete lack of empathy for anyone else. To admit anything to the contrary to them would mean that they don’t exist. It’s a survival mechanism that is deeply engrained inside of them.
Change for them is all but impossible
This is why change for them is all but impossible. Most narcissists have little to no interest in seeking any sort of counseling. The few who do can learn what normal behavior “looks” like.
For example, they can learn that a caring spouse would inquire about how their spouse is feeling if their spouse is sick. This is not to say that they would actually care about how their spouse is feeling. In this instance, they would be able to learn the proper behavior but not be able to actually muster the true feelings of care and empathy.
In short, most narcissists are very resistant to change as they would have to rewire their brains.
Very few are interested in changing and the ones who are can learn what appropriate behavior looks like and model that. This is a distinct difference from changing into a fully developed person who feels entirely whole and complete, one who would be able to be in a healthy, loving relationship. The chances of this are probably very slim.
Master Mindset Coach | International Speaker | Co-Author, “Think on These Things: 99 Meditative Messages To Make Your Day”
We first have to remember that narcissists are still human. With that being said, humans can change
That doesn’t mean it won’t take work. First and foremost, they have to realize that they are demonstrating undesired behavior.
Think about it, if they don’t realize they are doing anything wrong or harmful then how can they change? Secondly, once they take responsibility and actually want to change they still have to make sure they are ready to let go of any secondary gains.
When anyone is doing any undesirable action that has become a habit and says they want to stop but has trouble doing so, one thing I work with my clients on is recognizing and clearing out secondary gains, they will not stop the behavior if they feel that something else they are gaining from the behavior is benefiting them more than stopping. These secondary gains can be conscious or even subconscious.
One thing I know to be true is that no matter how hurtful the behavior, there is always a positive intent inside somewhere. That positive intent could be the person wants to feel important, wants attention, wants to feel in control, wants to be loved and the list goes on.
The problem is they are not using the correct methods to get those things and they can have a skewed vision of what they need to do to have them.
In short, yes narcissists can change however there is some pre-work to be done first.
Author | Psychotherapist
An interesting question, all depending on what the word “want” means
If it means to change out of the goodness of their hearts without any benefit to them, then the answer is probably not. If it means change because it benefits them, sure.
For example, counseling clients who bring a narcissistic parent to therapy with them, I’ve helped the parent see that being less demanding will bring them more attention/affection from my client. Viewed that way, they’re often motivated to change. I also believe that giving narcissists clear cut choice, often called an ultimatum, works.
A wife might say to her narcissistic husband, “If you want me to go to all the movies you want to see, you’ll have to go to the concerts I want to see.” Or an adult child might say to a parent, “If you want me to visit you, you will need to treat me nicely.”
One of the reasons that narcissists get their way so often is that people don’t challenge them nearly enough, especially if the narcissist tends toward bullying. Helping them see that they can be reasonable (and feel good about it!) makes change seem like a win rather than a loss.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker | Author, “The Final 8th: Enlist Your Inner Selves to Accomplish Your Goals”
Nobody changes unless they want to and are willing participants in the process
Nobody changes unless they want to and are willing participants in the process, which requires daring to be vulnerable and getting help when they stretch beyond their comfort zone.
Of course, this includes narcissists, a term thrown around everywhere. When somebody calls a person a narcissist, usually it’s because they’ve been hurt and react by attributing a negative label to that person. “She is self-involved and uncaring! She just uses people!”
While that might be accurate on the surface, the psychology of narcissism is complex. Believe it or not, if you’ve had your early childhood dose of healthy narcissism, you won’t be considered a narcissist later in life!
Paradoxically, those who are deficient in empathy, reciprocal interpersonal connection, and objectify people did not have their original narcissistic needs met.
How does that work? Good enough parents caringly respond and mirror the experience of their toddlers and children, which builds a stable sense of self and eventually, the ability to imagine and care about another’s point of view.
What does that look like? When Little Johnnie weeps, an adult quickly responds in a validating tone of voice, comforts the child, actively enquires about the problem, and helps resolve it.
When this happens regularly, not perfectly, the child learns many vital lessons including that he’s important, because the adults recognize his call and attend to his developmentally appropriate narcissistic needs. He learns to correctly identify his feelings, because his distress is mirrored back to him by an adult reflecting, “I see you’re upset. What happened?”
What if, instead, Little Johnnie is met with a look of disgust, told to stop crying as there is nothing wrong, and belittled for being weak, evidenced by this show of emotions?
In order to stay safe and get love, Little Johnnie will aim to comply. He represses his pain, humiliation, and rage. He develops strong-acting parts of himself and puts others down, raising himself at the expense of others. He disavows sensitivity and insecurity, attacking anything that threatens the ruthless pursuit of status, to compensate for the original shattering of his selfhood.
This is further encouraged by the social norms of today’s ‘winner takes all’ culture, where negative behavior is often celebrated.
A famous case study is outlined in Mary Trump’s book ‘Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man’ who describes her Uncle Donnie being ridiculed and taunted into oblivion by his father if he didn’t comply with his father’s strong-man image of him.
Speaker | Founder, Interpersonal Relationships Coaching | Author, “The P.E.O.P.L.E. Programme: How to Overcome Your Blocks to Success”
A true narcissist will unlikely believe they have any changing to do
The first thing to consider is that a true narcissist will unlikely believe they have any changing to do and will need to reach a significant pain point to be able to admit to having any issues.
If they have reached that point and realize they want to change, then yes they can, with a lot of time devoted to addressing their issues.
Narcissism generally comes in three forms:
- Massive insecurity within the self, leading to space where they are unable to allow themselves to see their own faults, and never accepting responsibility for their actions. Control over someone to ensure that they remain in their comfort zone, or window of comfort as I like to call it.
- They are carrying anger at the caregiver that caused them the most pain as a child and play this out in adult relationships. Leading to more aggressive behaviors.
- A mixture of both.
If a narcissist is prepared to address these issues then a positive outcome can be achieved.
It is hard for them to remain in therapy however as it goes against their base instincts of getting their needs met through control of their environment.
A mixture of therapy and prescribed medication seems to be the best way to attain a positive result.
Former Chicago Dating Advice Examiner | Author, “My Cat Won’t Bark! (A Relationship Epiphany)”
It’s a waste of time and energy to attempt to persuade someone to change for our benefit
Human beings have the ability to change behavior if they truly desire. The only requirements are a decision to do so, a willingness to commit, and putting forth a sustained effort. However, most people do not change unless they are unhappy.
Generally speaking, it’s a waste of time and energy to attempt to persuade someone to change for our benefit. Narcissistic people are typically very good at manipulating others. They are very resistant when they suspect others are trying to manipulate them.
The challenge for any outsider is to sell a narcissistic person on the idea if they make some changes in behavior they could do much better. Oftentimes, narcissistic people attribute any measure of success they have to be exactly how they are.
There is no amount of “communication” or “work” which can overcome being with someone who does not want what you want. Life is too short to be trying to change water into wine. The goal is to find someone who already is what you want.
“If your happiness depends on what somebody else does, I guess you do have a problem.” – Richard Bach
Certified Psychotherapist | Transformative Coach, Wide World Coaching
Moving away from labels, change is one of the only things you can guarantee in the world and it has been happening since the dawn of time. As for people changing, they surely can, if they want to, but whether they really want to is another thing.
People usually change for one of three reasons:
- They have been forced into it by the fact that their own behavior has become so painful to them.
- A family member has insisted and staged an intervention (not always successful).
- They have had an insight, that life can be different, better, more peaceful, more joy, and contentment.
Narcissism is meeting a perceived need of the person. That person has simply learned a way to cope with life that is not well received by others and society.
When you look beyond the subjective opinion of others, there is a perfect innately healthy human being beyond the outward manifestation of their struggle. Seeing someone beyond their conditioning is a key point in helping them change.
The word narcissist has a negative connotation even though its origination was from an innocent story. When people become overly attached to the image of themselves, they then go out of their way (at the expense of others at times) to grow, develop, and protect their self-image. This is often out of the conscious awareness of the person, and even if brought up by others, it will not be recognized.
The truth is, that the solution is simple, so simple that psychology cannot accept, and or will reject it, because it is caught up in complex solutions, and money is involved.
Narcissism melts away when you see the truth of who you are speaking to, when you speak to the innate health in someone and not the presenting symptom (the behavior) those people suffering see something different about themselves.
The typical path to getting help for a narcissist is visiting various practitioners, explaining their story, and then being told they are very damaged, that they somehow have childhood attachment disorders, and they need serious help. Not many people would want to get help this way given the choice, hence many people’s aversion to therapy, and psychiatric help.
It’s a hard pill to swallow, but to recognize and judge narcissism you have to at least have narcissistic tendencies yourself because all we ever see is a reflection of ourselves, The judgment is within the seeing is within, the vision is within. The answer is to see beyond, when you see beyond your own narcissistic tendencies, you will be able to see beyond others.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a narcissist fully recover from NPD?
While it’s possible for a narcissist to make significant progress in recovery, it’s important to remember that NPD is a long-standing personality disorder and that change can be a slow and challenging process.
It can take time and sustained effort for a narcissist to fully recover; some will never fully overcome their narcissistic traits.
How can friends and family support a narcissist on their journey to change?
Friends and family can support a narcissist on their path to change by:
• Providing consistent and honest feedback about his or her behavior
• Encouraging them to seek professional help and therapy
• Setting boundaries and communicating their own needs and feelings
• Offering empathy and understanding while caring for their own emotional well-being
How important is it for a narcissist to have a strong support network on their journey to change?
A strong support network is important for anyone working on their personal development. A support network can provide encouragement, guidance, and constructive feedback, which can be invaluable during the difficult process of change.
It’s important for narcissists to surround themselves with people who are understanding, empathetic, and willing to hold them accountable for their actions.
Can narcissists have successful relationships if they want to change?
Yes, narcissists can have successful relationships if they commit to changing and working on themselves. Developing empathy, self-awareness, and better communication skills can help them have healthier and more balanced relationships.
It’s important for both partners to be open, honest, and supportive during the change process.
How can a narcissistic person maintain progress after achieving some degree of change?
Maintaining progress after achieving some degree of change requires an ongoing commitment to self-improvement and self-awareness. Narcissists can progress by:
• Regularly evaluating their behavior and its impact on others
• Seeking feedback from friends, family, and therapists
• Continuing to practice empathy, active listening, and open communication
• Engaging in activities that promote personal growth and self-reflection, such as journaling, meditating, or participating in support groups
How can a narcissist measure his or her progress toward change?
Measuring progress can be subjective, but there are some signs that a narcissist is making progress toward change, such as:
• Improved relationships with friends, family, and romantic partners
• Increased self-awareness and a better understanding of one’s own feelings
• A decrease in manipulative or self-serving behavior
• The ability to accept constructive criticism and feedback without becoming defensive
• Demonstrating genuine empathy and concern for the well-being of others
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