Dr. David Hawkins, Director of The Marriage Recovery Center, talks about the emotional immaturity of the Narcissist. He talks about the inability of the Narcissist to express their needs in a healthy manner, thus resorting to being overwhelming, dominating, defensive.
Why Narcissists Can’t Express Their Needs
Narcissists are often characterized by their inability to express their needs and emotions in a healthy and constructive manner. Their emotional immaturity and constant focus on themselves prevent them from effectively communicating and connecting with others. In a four-day men’s intensive workshop, aimed at addressing the issues of narcissistic and emotionally abusive men, valuable insights were gained into the reasons behind their struggles to express their needs.
During this transformative program, the facilitator worked with these men to help them develop a clear sense of self, understand their emotions, and learn how to attune to others. This article explores the underlying reasons why narcissists find it challenging to express their needs and provides guidance on how to navigate relationships with them.
Emotional Immaturity and Powerlessness
Narcissists often display emotional immaturity, resembling the behaviors of a young child. Despite their outward displays of power and control, they feel powerless and overwhelmed deep down. This incongruence between their external and internal worlds contributes to their struggles in expressing their needs. Understanding this emotional immaturity is crucial to approaching them with empathy and compassion.
Overwhelming Presence and Insecurity
Despite their grandiose and overwhelming presence, narcissists often experience deep-seated insecurities. Their constant need for validation and attention stems from their underlying fear of inadequacy. This insecurity further hinders their ability to express their needs openly and authentically.
Developing a Clear Sense of Self
Helping narcissistic individuals develop a clear sense of self is essential in enabling them to express their needs effectively. By assisting them in recognizing their feelings, thoughts, and desires, they can gradually gain a deeper understanding of themselves. This self-awareness forms the foundation for healthier communication and relationship dynamics.
Attuning, Listening, and Empathizing
Narcissists need to learn how to attune to others, actively listen, and empathize. These skills allow them to genuinely care about the thoughts and feelings of others, fostering a more reciprocal and supportive environment. By helping them shift their focus from themselves to those around them, they can begin to develop the capacity to express their needs and engage in meaningful conversations.
Motivation for Change
Narcissistic individuals often resist change until they perceive it as necessary. When faced with the possibility of losing a relationship, their motivation to save it becomes a catalyst for transformation. It is important to recognize that change in narcissists typically occurs when they feel compelled to change, rather than when others demand it. Patience and understanding are crucial during this process.
Power and Control Issues
Power and control lie at the core of narcissistic behavior. Narcissists struggle to wield power in healthy ways, leading them to resort to manipulation and control tactics. Recognizing and addressing these underlying power dynamics is crucial for establishing healthier patterns of communication and expression of needs.
Lack of Healthy Assertiveness
Narcissists often lack the skills to assert themselves in a healthy manner. They may struggle to communicate their needs, wants, and boundaries, resorting instead to aggressive or manipulative tactics. By encouraging and teaching them assertiveness skills, they can learn to express themselves effectively without resorting to harmful behaviors.
Expressing Feelings in a Healthy Way
Learning to express emotions in a healthy manner is a vital aspect of growth for narcissists. By providing them with tools and techniques to identify, process, and communicate their feelings, they can develop a more balanced and genuine approach to expressing their needs.
Nurturing Healthy Communication Skills
Building healthy communication skills is essential for narcissists to express their needs successfully. This involves cultivating active listening, empathy, and open dialogue. By creating an environment that encourages respectful and honest communication, individuals with narcissistic tendencies can begin to overcome their challenges in expressing their needs.
Tips for Interacting with Narcissists
- Be clear about your feelings, thoughts, and wants.
- Avoid getting entangled in power struggles.
- Hold onto your sense of self and set healthy boundaries.
- Encourage them to listen and attune to you.
- Request their quiet presence and genuine attention.
- Repeat your needs, thoughts, and feelings assertively.
- Avoid engaging in conversations that lack collaboration.
- Let go and push away when necessary.
- Communicate that you will engage when they can truly hear you.
- Continue practicing these strategies to make a lasting impact.
In conclusion, narcissists struggle to express their needs due to emotional immaturity, power dynamics, and an inability to attune to others. However, with patience, understanding, and the development of self-awareness and healthy communication skills, narcissists can learn to express their needs in a more constructive and respectful manner. By fostering an environment that encourages open dialogue and empathetic understanding, we can support these individuals in their journey towards positive change.
Also read: How to Save Your Marriage From Divorce
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.