Having a disproportionate amount of self-interest is the trademark of every narcissist. So why do narcissists think they are superior? Their inability to think beyond their pride and show empathy, coupled with their unconscious need to exert superiority over others, cause them to create massive imbalances within their relationships. While many narcissists are capable of changing their ways, it is not possible for them to do so on their own. Most narcissists are not even aware that their behavior is harmful.
Why Do Narcissists Think They Are Superior?
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone where you quickly realized it wasn’t a genuine two-way exchange? A conversation with someone with narcissism can often feel like this, leaving you with a sense of their dominating force and superiority. In this article, we will delve into the psychology of narcissists, understanding why they perceive themselves as superior and how this attitude affects their interactions with others.
The Dominant Nature of Narcissists
When working with narcissistic individuals, it becomes evident that they exude a sense of superiority and argumentativeness. Even if they aren’t overtly show-offs seeking the limelight, they still display dominance in their interactions with their partners and others. This forceful demeanor can leave you feeling overwhelmed and belittled, wondering why they must always assert themselves as right or win in every conversation.
Uncovering the Attitude of Superiority
The root of this dominant behavior lies in their underlying attitude of superiority. Often, narcissists are not fully aware of this aspect of their personality; they may simply be trying to make a point or persuade others to their viewpoint. This attitude, though subtle to them, creates a palpable force that impacts those around them. Convincing or coercing others may not always be intentional; it is a manifestation of their ingrained sense of being superior to others.
The Breakdown that Leads to the Breakthrough
For real change to occur in a narcissist’s behavior, a significant event often becomes the catalyst. This could be a crisis in their relationship, such as a partner threatening to leave, or some other drastic situation that shakes them awake. Until this point, they may not have considered their partner as relevant or worthy of their true attention.
Confronting the Attitude of Superiority
In therapy, the narcissistic individual must face the uncomfortable truths about themselves. A skilled therapist needs to be firm and confrontational, helping them recognize and understand the underlying attitude of superiority that has been driving their behavior. Denial and disbelief may arise, but the therapist’s role is to hold up the mirror to their attitudes and actions, making them confront the reality of their dominating behavior.
Owning Responsibility for Change
Once the narcissist acknowledges the existence of their attitude of superiority, they must take full responsibility for it. This step is crucial for any potential transformation. The process of change is long and painstaking, involving a collaborative effort to root out the deeply ingrained beliefs and behaviors that stem from the feeling of superiority.
Developing Cooperation and Communication
As the narcissist progresses in therapy and begins to relinquish their attitude of superiority, they can gradually develop more cooperative and communicative skills. The process of change involves relearning how to interact with others on an equal footing, respecting their opinions and feelings without feeling the need to dominate or prove themselves right all the time.
The sense of superiority in narcissism is deeply rooted in their psyche, driving their dominating and forceful behavior in interactions with others. Only through a significant breakdown that leads to a breakthrough can they begin to recognize and address this attitude. In the presence of a supportive and confrontational therapist, they can slowly shed their superiority complex and learn to communicate and cooperate effectively with others, fostering healthier and more balanced relationships.
Also read: How to Help Someone With Narcissism
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.