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Narcissists Are Still Individuals, So Don't Be Fooled!

Updated on February 25, 2018
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The Little Shaman is a spiritual counselor, hypnotherapist, and a specialist in Cluster B personality disorders.

It can be easy to lump narcissists all together, especially when their behavior is often so similar. However, narcissistic people are like everybody else. They still have a personality of sorts, even though they don't have a stable identity.

This might sound a little confusing, because people often confuse these two things and the subject itself can be kind of complex, so just as a quick overview, your personality is not your identity. They generally work together but they are not the same thing. The difference between personality and identity is basically the difference between saying I have a cat versus I am a cat. A personality is something you have, and an identity is something you are. You could say your personality is how you express your identity. For pathologically narcissistic people, the personality is disordered because the identity is unstable.

Many times when people are looking into their loved one's behavior to find an explanation, they may find things that don't seem to jibe with the way their loved one acts. We see this often with people who are dealing with covert narcissists. Most of the information out there talks about narcissism a certain way, and people may not realize that even though their loved one's behavior might not seem to fit, it does. It's just that it's being expressed differently because their personality is different. Identifying narcissistic people by their behavior can be an important validation so that people can move on. If this does not happen because people don't recognize it, understanding may be delayed.

A person who whines that others must tell them everything they do because of worry is just as selfish and controlling as a person who demands it. A person who cries and sulks to get their way is just as controlling as someone who screams and rages. A person who believe everybody hates them is just as delusionally self-important and convinced of their special status as a person who believes everybody loves them. A person who claims they deserve whatever they want because they are a victim is just as entitled as a person who says they deserve it for being superior to everybody else. These things are not different. They are just being expressed differently because narcissistic people have different personalities, just like anybody else. Some are introverted, some are extroverted. Some are loud. Some are quiet. Some are overt and some are covert. It just depends.

It's for this reason that we can't say all narcissists do this or all narcissists do that. It would be much easier if that were possible, but because people are people, we can't. Some people say, for example, that all narcissists cheat. This is not the case, any more than it is for any other type of person. Some people say all narcissists are physically abusive. This is not the truth, either. Human behavior is goal-oriented for the most part, and personality is what dictates how people go about achieving these goals. Narcissists are no different in that regard.

It helps to remember that absolutes are rare in this world. Almost nobody ticks every box for everything, because everybody is different. If you are looking into your loved one's behavior, remember that behaviors can present themselves differently but still have the same goal. Grandiosity, entitlement, selfishness and arrogance don't always look like what you might think.

And remember, in the end, it doesn't really matter why someone is abusive. However, it often takes the realization of what they are dealing with to help people understand that the relationship is perpetually toxic, as opposed to "just" being a relationship with a mentally ill person, but it bears repeating that the understanding is for you, not the pathologically narcissistic person. Many people in these types relationships have been abused, gaslighted, marginalized and dismissed. They have been blamed. They have been convinced that they are responsible for the narcissist's well-being. They are confused, guilty and many have become obsessed with the idea of fixing the narcissist and the relationship as a way of trying not only to help someone they care about but as a way of validating their self-worth.

Once people understand what they're dealing with, they can decide if that is the type of relationship they want to be in. You alone decide how far you want to go to help someone else at the expense of your own well-being. And hopefully, the answer to that is that you've already gone far enough.

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