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This brief YouTube
video offers perspective on what
you'll read in this article:
This is one of a
of brief articles on how to respond effectively
to annoying social behavior. An effective
when you (a) get your
primary needs met
well enough, and (b) both people feel
This article offers useful responses to
the behavior of someone you experience as
egotistical or Narcissistic."
It assumes you're familiar with...
Egotism and Narcissism are related, but have
is the Latin word for "I." How would you
define egotism to an average preteen?
What traits do the egotists you've met display?
How do you feel around someone who is
egotistical? How do you respond to them -
with annoyance? Irritation? Repressed or overt
disapproval? Scorn? Compassion? Amusement?
Tolerance? Avoidance? What needs in you are not
met well when you encounter an egotist -
specially one whom you're forced to relate to,
like a boss, in-law, or co-worker?
on yourself and ignoring or minimizing other
people, without guilt or apology,
talents and achievements above other
ignoring other people's needs, talents, and
Grandiosity is a form of
egotism where a person needs to distort reality
and see themselves and their actions as
superior to other people.
Egotists can over-react to criticism, becoming
angry, defensive, contemptuous, belligerent, and/or blameful.
They may have trouble listening to opinions that
differ from theirs, and acknowledging other
being equal to their own. They may or may not be
prejudiced about some
ideas or people, preach
and moralize, and/or
may interrupt to focus on themselves. If
egotists monolog about themselves, they may be
boring, and they may
have an irritating sense of
Paradoxically, egotism is often an unconscious
defense (protection) against a profound feeling
of worthlessness (shame). Three common
personality subselves causing "egotism" are a
Shamed Child, an Entitled One, and a Magician
In my experience, egotism is an undeserved
pejorative label. Typical egotists are psychologically-
wounded people with no concept
of their wounds, what they mean, and what to do
about them. They were probably shamed as young
kids, or excessively praised and spoiled by
insecure, shamed parents.
Notice the difference
between "S/He is an insensitive, arrogant egotist" and
"S/He is psychologically wounded and unaware."
Narcissism comes from the
mythological Greek Narcissus, who fell in
love with his own reflection in a pool. Both
Narcissists and egotists focus mainly on
themselves. The former says "I really
myself! The latter says "I am better than you,"
The media and the Web generally demonize
"Narcissists," depicting them as menacing
predators who are conniving, controlling,
selfish, dishonest, arrogant, manipulative,
insensitive, and abusive - i.e. asserting that
they arebadpeople meriting
scorn, hostility, criticism, and disgust. This
pejorative (1-up) attitude blocks effective
communication with these injured people and
amplifies relationship problems with them.
Narcissistic traits are real. They stem from
psychological wounds and unawareness from
early-childhood abandonment, neglect, and abuse
(trauma). Typical survivors are unaware of this
toxic inheritance or deny it. Because
Narcissistic traits are caused by distrustful
false selves, the person cannot willfully
change his or her attitudes and behaviors
any more than an addict can intellectually
decide to quit a toxic compulsion. "Will-power"
Implication: people whining that they are
"victimized" by "a Narcissist" are denying that
they are half the problem because of (1)
their judgmental (superior) attitude, and (2)
their ignorance of inherited psychological
wounds and how to communicate with wounded
If "egotists" and "Narcissists" stress you, what
can you do?
Compare these options to your usual responses to
on overly-egotistical or Narcissistic person:
Learn about "Grown
Wounded Children" (GWCs), and
what it means to be a GWC. Then
yourself for inherited wounds
you are a GWC, you have bigger
problems than egotists and Narcissists.
If you ignore this step, your wise true
Self is probably disabled.
If you're critical or scornful of the
person, (a) your face, voice, and body will
broadcast that and hinder communication, and
(b) you may be ruled by a
Check your terminology. If you think
or speak of the person as "egotistical" or
"Narcissistic," you risk unconsciously
broadcasting an "I'm superior"
which will degrade your communication. A
more compassionate term is
aware of your feelings around the
person. They point toward what you
to identify your primary needs related to
the person's attitude and behaviors. Common
needs are (a) to feel included and
respected, (b) to be heard and validated as
an equal person, and (c) to
your needs and opinions respectfully and
aware of your conversational
awareness bubbles . If the person maintains a 1-person
bubble, consider telling her/him that as
constructive feedback, not criticism. If
you have a 1-person bubble, suspect a
false self controls you.
Review your personal
as a dignified, valuable person.
Affirm that your needs and opinions are just
as important as the other person's. If you
don't feel this, suspect a false self
Avoid feeling you have to fix, save, or
rescue the wounded person. You're
for filling your needs, and they are
responsible for satisfying theirs.
about "hurting their feelings" is
them, not helping them.
if you don't assert yourself with this
person, they will probably continue their
behavior and limit your relationship with
them (and others).
Compose a two or three-part
(assertion), and get clear on
you want to assert - e.g. to vent, to honor
your own integrity, to set a respectful
boundary, to provide useful feedback, and/or
if the person is willing to hear some
personal feedback. You'll probably
get "Yes" from either curiosity or
politeness. If you get "No," suspect their
distrustful false self is guarding them.
When you both
are undistracted, state your assertion
calmly, with steady eye contact. That might
"(Name), when you constantly focus on
yourself, I feel ignored and
- "and I need you to want to include
me in our conversation." Option
- "If you can't or won't, I'm going to
end our conversation / call you on it /
put my fingers in my ears / (or some
other non-sarcastic consequence.)"
"(Name), are you aware of your awareness
bubble with me now?"
when you choose to maintain a 1-person
bubble focused on yourself, I feel
ignored, hurt, and resentful."
doesn't know about these bubbles, you
can describe and illustrate them and then
use the response above.
the person to disagree, whine, apologize,
explain, laugh, criticize you, or give you
some other "resistance"
your response. Use
to say back what you hear, without
explanation or apology. Then
calmly restate your original assertion.
assert > listen > reassert > listen...
sequence until you (a) fill your need, (b)
or (c) run out of time or patience.
Pause, breathe, and reflect.
How do you feel
about these response options to an egotistical
or Narcissistic adult or child? Can you imagine
trying them? How do they compare with your
If your inner voices are saying things like "Too
complicated!" / "People don't talk like this." /
"It won't make a difference." / "This is just
psychobabble." / "Better just shut up and avoid
a conflict." - that's probably protective
who fear risking new behavior. Do you want to
let them to run your life?
perspective, see this article on
to Grown Wounded Children (GWCs).
This is one of a series of brief articles
suggesting effective ways to respond to common
social behaviors. This article offers ways to
(a) understand and (b) respond effectively to an
egotistical or Narcissistic person. The ways are