Understanding the habits of highly narcissistic individuals is crucial for navigating relationships with them. Dr. David Hawkins, director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute, identifies the key habits that define narcissistic behavior. In this article, we will explore the notion that narcissists believe they have the right to be hurtful, and answer a common question: Do narcissists have feelings?
The Right to Be Hurtful
Narcissists exhibit a belief that they have the right to be hurtful, and furthermore, they think you deserve to be hurt. This concept may seem perplexing, but when viewed in conjunction with other narcissistic habits, such as rigid thinking, superiority complex, and an aversion to being challenged, it starts to make sense.
Lack of Empathy and Compassion
One hallmark trait of highly narcissistic individuals is their apparent lack of empathy and compassion. Driven by the conviction that they are always right and superior, they may move through the world without considering the impact of their actions on others. This lack of empathy allows them to be oblivious to the hurt they cause or, if they are aware, to justify, minimize, or rationalize their behavior.
Thin Skin and Obliviousness
Paradoxically, narcissists often possess a thin skin, being easily wounded by perceived slights. However, they remain remarkably oblivious to the harm they inflict on those around them. This duality is striking: on one hand, they are sensitive to criticism, and on the other, they are seemingly immune to recognizing the pain they cause others.
Strategies for Dealing with Narcissistic Behavior
Understanding the dynamics of interacting with narcissists is crucial for maintaining one’s well-being. Dr. Hawkins provides a four-step approach to address hurtful behavior from narcissistic individuals.
Step 1: State Emphatically What Happened
The first step involves clearly stating the observed behavior. Whether it’s walking out of a room while someone is talking, interrupting, or name-calling, acknowledging the action is essential for self-validation and initiating a conversation.
Step 2: State Emphatically Your Feelings
Expressing feelings associated with the observed behavior is the second step. This step helps in establishing a connection between the actions and their emotional impact. Articulating feelings such as insignificance or being unheard serves as a form of self-advocacy.
Step 3: State the Consequences
Clearly outlining the consequences of the behavior is the next crucial step. It’s not about issuing threats but rather establishing boundaries. For instance, if the interrupting continues, the consequence might be a decision to disengage from the conversation.
Step 4: State What Needs to Change
Finally, communicate what changes are necessary for the relationship to continue in a healthy manner. This step sets expectations for future interactions, emphasizing the importance of validating concerns and fostering respectful communication.
Do Narcissists Have Feelings?
In conclusion, understanding the feelings (or lack thereof) that narcissists may have is a complex matter. While they may be sensitive to perceived attacks on their ego, their actions often demonstrate a lack of empathy and consideration for others. Navigating relationships with narcissistic individuals requires setting clear boundaries, expressing feelings, and advocating for one’s well-being. By employing these strategies, individuals can empower themselves to interact with narcissists in a healthier way, fostering better communication and mutual respect. Remember, it’s not about changing the narcissist but about protecting and prioritizing your own emotional well-being.
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Also read: What Happens When Challenging a Narcissist?
About Dr. Hawkins:
The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.
Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.
He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.
In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.