Lessons for life
December 16, 2010
Have you ever received an expensive gift from someone who "accidentally" left the price tag in plain sight? Or how about those people who constantly remind you how fabulous they are for giving you that "must have" present? While this may seem like generosity, it's actually the calculated work of a narcissist.
"Narcissists love to pat themselves on the back when they give presents," says Dr. Judith Orloff, whose book "Emotional Freedom" was recently released in paperback. "Then they can live in the illusion of what nice people they are, when really it is only an exercise in ego stroking! Also narcissists give gifts in an attempt to charm you. They use charm as a weapon to get what they want."
Sound familiar? Chances are you know, love, or will encounter a narcissist this holiday season. But is it really possible to please someone who is "a legend in their own mind," as Orloff describes?
"They do not know how to give unconditional love so all their gifts have strings attached," explains Orloff. "They want to get something from you—whether it be love, attention, admiration, money."
But Orloff warns, those charmers won't stay charming if they are not longer being worshipped.
"When you stop stroking their ego or beg to disagree, they can turn on you and become punishing," says Orloff. "Once you catch on to this pattern, a narcissist seems about as charming as a banana peel."
Here are Dr. Orloff's tips to surviving and recognizing the narcissist in your life.
Figure out your needs. This may mean limiting time with them and making different choices, which can be tough this time of year for many to initiate, but well worth it in the long run.
Be realistic. Enjoy their good qualities, but understand a narcissist is emotionally limited, even if they're sophisticated in other ways.
Accept these limitations. If you really and truly accept them for their limits, you won't continue to ask or expect things of those friends, co-workers and family members. The cycle of disappointment can stop the minute you stop wishing the narcissist in your life will change.
Don't try to please a narcissist. A narcissist's motto is 'Me first!' Everything is about them. They have a grandiose sense of self-importance and entitlement, and they crave admiration and attention. You mostly likely will fall short in their mind, and this will lower your self esteem.
Don't confide in a narcissist. If you share your deepest feelings, you want to make sure you do so with someone who will cherish them and not easily share that information with others.
And if you're planning to buy a present for the narcissist in your life, Orloff says not to expect a thank you. "Never make your self-worth dependent on them," she says.
(And buy them a copy of "Emotional Freedom" so they can get the memo!)