When the Narcissist Has to Face Reality

Expecting special attention and feeling entitled are key features of narcissism. There are times when, without realizing it, even an ordinary person can get swept up in this narcissistic frame of mind: You’ve been pampered all day at a spa while getting ready for your best friend’s wedding. Perhaps you’ve taken a trip where everything gets done for you, and you don’t have to think about the normal exigencies of life. It feels nice to be treated well—it boosts your self-esteem and you start to feel a bit more important than you did before.

Life is full of opportunities, unfortunately, to enter a more permanent narcissistic bubble. Let’s say your hard work has been rewarded and you’ve received a promotion. Instead of having to answer the phone yourself, someone now does it for you. Coffee is provided at meetings without your having to lift a finger, and the lower-ranked people who work for you write down everything you say with great fervor.

The “promotion” doesn’t just have to be at work. Perhaps your partner really knows how to treat you well and completes the multitude of chores needed to keep your home running. Or maybe you’ve made some demands on your family (such as when and where to have the next celebration) to which they concede. You didn’t know you had that much power; your narcissistic bubble begins to grow.

The narcissistic bubble can creep over you in an almost imperceptible manner. You’re not even fully conscious of having created it. The more reinforcing experiences you have, the larger and more rigid it becomes. Then, without warning, something happens that causes the bubble to burst. Those loyal employees who attend to your every need may still be fawning over you, but you’re frustrated with your inability to progress as high as you hoped on the career ladder. Your family members start to turn their attention away from you and toward a new in-law or grandchild. You’re no longer the center of their world.

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