Is the Self-Centered Person in your Life Driving You Nuts?

We had just been seated at her favorite restaurant, when Aunt M. decided it was too hot in our booth. No problem, the hostess moved us to a table under the air conditioning vent, and agreed to turn the thermostat down.

After the water had been served and the drink order taken, Auntie M. decided it was hard to see because the light from the window was too bright. When we tried to talk her out of a second move, she yelled, “I can’t see!” We changed tables.

Peace at last? We could only hope. Now the music was too loud. My Uncle H. asked her if she could try to adjust. To which she yelled, “I’m paying for this!” not the entire bill, mind you, just her portion, but, H. asked to have the music turned down, and Aunt M. was happy … for the time being.

Is my Aunt M. a full-blown Narcissist, or just a little too self-centered? Let’s see.

Selfishness is defined as,

Someone who is concerned exclusively with oneself: seeking one’s own pleasure or well being without regard for others.

A Narcissist would have the above traits, AND several of the following,

Someone with an exaggerated sense of self- importance, lack of empathy, a belief that he/she is special, a sense of entitlement, requiring excessive admiration, showing arrogant or haughty behaviors and/or taking advantage of others to achieve his/her own needs.

Distinguishing between selfishness and narcissism is important because selfish people can change, and Narcissists typically won’t. When a selfish person realizes he is causing others discomfort, he can choose to do something different. A true narcissist can’t. It’s almost as if the self-importance is hard wired in their bodies. For example, when my friend Heidi returned from the Vet with a red, tear streaked face and said,

“We had to put Lucy to sleep. She was just too sick”

Her husband replied,

“Oh that’s too bad, and by the way, I’m out of deodorant.”

This wasn’t the first time he failed to notice her, and continued to think only of himself. He is a Narcissist.

As if it isn’t bad enough that Narcissists don’t consider others, they also have the belief that we feel the same way about them that they do. (Holy Cow!) Just like you and I both know when it is raining, the Narcissist assumes that we both know when he or she is unhappy. And since we both supposedly know, it is especially disturbing to the Narcissist that we aren’t doing anything about it, like getting the deodorant, or harassing the waitress.

If you live, work or play with a Narcissist, then you know what it’s like when they are unhappy. The reaction can be anything from anger and acting out to pouting and the silent treatment. They have no problem letting us know how we have disappointed them.

The solution? If you think you are dealing with a selfish person, you may want to tell them what you need. If you are clear and your requests are consistently ignored, you might be dealing with a Narcissist. The Narcissist doesn’t understand that you may have needs, and they often don’t think your needs are important, especially when compared to theirs. If you find that you may be dealing with a genuine Narcissist, you may want to seek help in dealing with them, or managing to live with them. It can be very hard.

My Uncle hasn’t figured out that Aunt M. is a hard-wired Narcissist. If he does, he won’t try to reason with her, or suggest that she can manage her upset. He will let her have her way, and avoid being yelled at in public.

In conclusion, let me leave you with this Old Vaquero Saying.

It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.