12 Traits of a Narcissist

12 Traits of a Narcissist (A Destructive Fantasy)

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It’s not so long ago that narcissism was considered to be nothing more than a humorously large amount of vanity. However, we now know that people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) have a mental illness that negatively impacts those around them.

The 12 traits of a narcissist exemplify how people with NPD live in an entirely false reality that has them genuinely believing they are superior to every other person on the planet.

This is no small disorder and the effects of living life with such grandiose self-importance are extremely damaging to those closest to them. Their constant need for people to enter their fantasy with them and go along with it, “or else” is a catastrophic way to live.

If you are dealing with someone who regularly shows the 12 traits of a narcissist, you’ll be well on your way to better understanding what you’re dealing with.

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12 Traits of a Narcissist

Narcissist, mirror, inflated self-importance

Inflated Self-importance & Entitlement

The first in the 12 traits of a narcissist is an extremely inflated sense of self-importance and entitlement.

Due to a traumatic environment, the narcissist’s childhood self was filled with such incredible feelings of self-loathing, shame and disgust that they simply could not bear it. They subconsciously said, “No!” I refuse to feel these things. So, they severed the part of themselves that was responsible for such vulnerabilities, which was their True Self.

Without their True Self, they are now left with only their ego running the show.

For the ego to remain real and relevant it has created a False Self, which is an ever-changing mask showcasing to the world who they believe themselves to be inside of their fantasy.

The False Self is a complete inversion of reality and serves to protect the narcissist from the truth – that they are indeed a flawed and imperfect human being, just like the rest of us.

The ego is so powerful that it genuinely has the narcissist believing in its fantasy version whereby they are superior, perfect and entitled.

They view everybody else as being below them, merely being there to serve them and then to be discarded once they’re all emptied out. They don’t view people as autonomous beings with their own needs and wants, but rather, tools to be used for them to get what they want.

READ: How Are Narcissists Made? →

Low Empathy

It’s our True Self that gives us the ability to feel all of the things that make us authentically human, such as kindness, love, compassion and empathy.

Since narcissists no longer have access to their True Self, they can only experience life through their ego’s False Self reality. The ego can only function through the lower vibrations of hate, greed, envy, manipulation, control and competition in order to get its needs met.

This is why narcissists have such low levels of empathy.

Narcissists do have enough empathy to know how something may affect another person’s feelings, but their absence of compassion means that they simply do not care. In fact, they use that small amount of empathy as a weapon to either fake it as a manipulation tactic or use your compassion against you to coerce you (via guilt or fear) into doing what they want.

Essentially, your feelings are nothing but an inconvenience to the narcissist since you are there to be of service to them.

READ: Do Narcs Feel Guilt or Remorse?

Constant Need for External Validation

For the narcissist’s false reality to stay afloat for them, they need constant validation from the outside world that their delusion really is ‘real.’

This is why they are always on the hunt for narcissistic supply, which can come in two forms.

Types of Narcissistic Supply:

  1. Primary Supply – receiving supply through attention (can be positive or negative)
  2. Secondary Supply – receiving supply through appearances (must be positive)

Narcissistic supply is essentially life force energy, which they need to extract and steal from other people. This is the only way for them to temporarily abate their inner black hole, which is left in place of where their True Self was.

For non-narcissists who still have their True Self intact, we can access divine life force energy organically, which is how we are able to feel love, empathy, kindness, and compassion without needing to steal it from others.

If narcissists go too long between hits of supply, their false reality will quickly begin to fade because it’s merely an intangible illusion. When that happens, you will see the narcissist explode outward in some way because they must do something to get supply quickly before that happens.

This is when they’ll do something to elicit validation of their self-created importance, whether it be fishing for compliments or baiting someone into an argument.

READ: Narcissistic Supply Explained
Narcissist, manipulative

Manipulative Behaviour

Another characteristic in the list of 12 traits of a narcissist is the manipulative behaviour, which is one of the leading trademarks of the ego.

You see, there’s nothing authentic left within the narcissist, since they severed their True Self long ago. So, for someone who has nothing authentic to bring to the table, how are they going to get their needs met? Through manipulation of course.

They barge through life, feeling entitled to say and do as they please. In their delusional reality, they are perfect and God-like, therefore nothing and no one sits above them. They answer to no one but ‘me, myself and I.’

While that all sounds rather grand for them, the reality of their bottomless black hole still exists. That black hole, which used to house their True Self, is filled with even greater feelings of shame, self-loathing and disgust than what they tried to run away from in the beginning.

Now, instead of being able to access their own supply of life force energy to heal up those traumas and move into a healthier life, they’re left with only one option. To steal life force energy from other whole beings so that they can siphon it into their black hole and experience a brief reprieve from the thing that’s always threatening to suck them in.

The problem with this tactic is that no one in their right mind is going to willingly hand over their life force to an energy vampire.

This is the whole purpose of the narcissist’s False Self, which is the mask they use to manipulate people into handing over their energy without even realising what’s happening.

The narcissist’s entire psychological survival relies on them manipulating others, in a seamless and convincing fashion, so that they can pilfer their much-needed drug, narcissistic supply.

READ: Narc Gaslighting Checklist

Extremely Controlling

The whole charade of the False Self is precariously balanced on the narcissist’s ability to control every aspect of themselves and those around them. Their fantasy reality is a like a well-oiled machine, which requires constant tending in order to continue running.

Narcissist’s must control everything in their world so that they can constantly uphold the version of reality that they falsely believe to be true. Without this extreme control, their house of cards would blow away with the wind.

Lack of Accountability

For the narcissist’s entire fantasy to exist, they need to be receiving constant feedback from the outside world to validate that narrative for them continuously, otherwise it will quickly dissipate into the nothingness that it is.

So, for their ego to keep that fantasy ‘real,’ it can only accept information that confirms that storyline.

Any information that comes towards them that denies the false storyline must be annihilated in order to protect the fantasy.

It’s important to note here that the narcissist’s fantasy reality is a matter of psychological survival and to have that shattered is a fate worse than death to them. Because it would mean that they are not perfect, special or superior after all. They are indeed the shame-filled despicable thing that they despise so much.

This is why narcissists cannot accept any responsibility or accountability for their words and actions, because it’s effectively evidence that their whole fantasy is a sham.

So, when they are presented with a piece of information that goes against their delusion, their ego will seek to destroy the person who brought it to their attention. This is the only way it knows how to destroy the evidence itself.

How Narcissists Evade Accountability:

  • Blame-shifting – Putting the spotlight onto someone else
  • Projection – Superimposing the very things that they are doing onto someone else
  • Gaslighting – Manipulating someone else’s reality to suit their agenda
  • Withholding & punishing – Disciplining behaviour that doesn’t suit their agenda
  • Rewriting history – Re-scripting the storyline to suit their fantasy
  • Playing the victim – To elicit pity so people don’t hold them to account
READ: Why Narcs Refuse Responsibility

Boundary Violation

Next in the 12 traits of a narcissist is their ability to openly and easily violate the boundaries of others.

Narcissists don’t really see where they stop and others begin. In their version of life, other people are just characters in their stage show, who they can push around and control as they see fit.

On top of that, narcissists feel entitled to whatever it is that they want in life, which is a part of the God-like superiority complex. If they’re the centre of the universe and the most important person, why shouldn’t they be able to do whatever they want?

This is evident when someone asserts a boundary that the narcissist doesn’t like. Essentially, boundaries are when we say ‘no’ to things that we’re not comfortable with so that we can feel safe.

In other words, you setting a boundary is saying, “No” to the narcissist.

How dare you say “No” to me! Don’t you know who I am?!

Narcissists are famous for their ability to smash through people’s boundaries and not see a problem with it. They don’t respect other people as autonomous beings with their own needs, therefore they do not care about any personal boundaries people set.

Their entitlement has them believing that they should be able to access and take whatever they like, without consequence.

Narcissistic Abuse, No Boundaries

Fragile Self-esteem

As we’ve touched on, the truth of what sits deep inside the narcissist is a terrified little child who’s filled with unbearable shame and disgust.

This is why they’ve had to create such elaborate lies and illusions to trick not only the world around them, but more importantly themselves, into believing that they are the absolute opposite of that truth.

The narcissist’s fragile ego is only ever a few inches below the surface, which can be seen in how quickly their moods can shift. One minute, they seem quite content, the next, they’ll be flying into a rage or curled in the foetal position playing the victim.

Narcissists are extremely sensitive to any perceived slights against them because they simply cannot accept any fraction of information that goes against their False Self. It’s like their ego is always on tenterhooks, waiting for an attack so that it can shoot it down as fast as possible.

Emotional Volatility

As a direct result of the narcissist’s fragile ego, their emotions are extremely volatile.

They’re not genuinely happy people, but rather, they’ve chosen the existence of a nervous drug addict who’s constantly on the hunt for supply.

You’ll notice that when a narcissist is getting a great shot of supply, they will go into narcissistic elation, which is like a ‘high.’ When they’re in this space, they can be funny, charming and lots of fun to be around.

However, once the supply starts to wane, they quickly drop back into narcissistic depletion, which is like a ‘comedown.’ They feel it and they know that they need a hit and quick before they sink into their own depths of inner despair.

When a narcissist feels themselves falling, they will explode those unwanted feelings outwards in some way in order to dump them onto someone else to carry. It’s the ultimate disowning of their own wounding because they cannot bear to deal with it.

This is where they will bait someone into an argument out of nowhere or desperately seek compliments through showy or boastful behaviour.

Narcissist, crown, power, fame, success

Fantasies of Success & Power

Due to the narcissist’s belief in superiority comes delusions and fantasies of success, power, riches, fame or whatever else it is that they feel entitled to.

For the narcissists who are particularly skilled, charming, good looking, intelligent or privileged in some way, success and power can very well become a reality for them. Grandiose narcissists can often fall into this category because of their extroversion and inflated sense of confidence.

However, for the garden variety of narcissists, who don’t have anything particularly special to offer the world, they usually won’t see those fantasies play out. But that doesn’t mean they don’t still have the belief that those things are owed to them, just because of who they believe themselves to be.

Covert narcissists are particularly prone to becoming brooding and resentful to a world that they think is ridiculously unfair to them. They truly believe that they should be delivered power, success and riches, all to the comfort of their couch, while having done absolutely nothing to have earned it.

Narcissists will commonly tout their dreams of success as though they are an absolute, but more often than not, those dreams amount to nothing. You see, narcissists don’t care about the long game, they’re looking for instant gratification, which is the opposite of hard work and sustainably-built success.

Exploitative & Predatory Behaviours

When the young pre-narcissistic child unconsciously chose the path of narcissism, they effectively took the path of predator.

Having cut off the ability to heal their own wounds and work towards being whole and healthy, they opted for a life of pilfering and stealing instead.

Narcissists are predatory by nature as they do not have the resources to fulfil their own needs from within. They must exploit others and coerce them into handing over their energy and resources because it’s the only tool they’ve got.

They view the world as eat or be eaten, which is why, if you go against their agenda, they’ll set out to destroy you before you destroy them.

Chronic Feelings of Emptiness & Boredom

The last of the 12 traits of a narcissist is their chronic feelings of emptiness. This all comes down to the gaping black hole within, that used to house their True Self.

There is no possible way for the narcissist to fill in that black hole without reviving the connection with their True Self, however that’s an impossibility in this lifetime. Hence, they are destined to spend the rest of their life chasing short-term fixes of attention, validation and adulation just so they can abate that emptiness for a brief moment.

This feeling of emptiness can often manifest as boredom because they are a no-self with nothing authentic inside.

Narcissists can often be found filling up their diaries with back-to-back activities or trying to fill the emptiness with drugs, alcohol, shopping, food or sex. All of these things serve to distract them from being left alone with themselves, who they absolutely despise (yet refuse to acknowledge).

READ: Narc Checklist (90+ items)

If you can recognise most or all of these 12 traits of a narcissist, you may just be dealing with one in your life.

Take the Narcissist Partner Quiz or one of the other narcissism quizzes to dig deeper into your relationship.

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▶️ VIDEO: 12 Traits of a Narcissist

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