How Narcissism Feels

A shortcut to seeing inside the mind of a person with narcissism traits~
have you ever stubbed your toe really badly, and your whole being felt engulfed with that awful pain? I have. Or sprained your ankle, or got punched or kicked in the nether regions, broke a bone perhaps, sustained a head injury, or experienced some other all-encompassing pain, whether it was brief or lasted a while. 

If right at that moment of intense pain, a vase fell of the shelf, I would have just let it fall, because my body and brain was completely focused on the overwhelming pain, all my "self" cared about was that pain and injury. If someone fell down the stairs right at that moment, I literally may not even see it or notice it. After the fog cleared in my head I might get all my compassion and empathy and compulsion to help back, but while I'm in that pain, my body and brain are mostly concerned with ME and MY body. (If I stub my toe while carrying my baby, my automatic "protect the baby" will kick in, but it's not really a conscious choice, it's because my brain is equipped with that, and it has not been dismantled.) 

Have you ever fallen asleep while driving, or while working late, or while up feeding a baby, or any other time where you were trying to do something but your body and brain simply feel asleep? At that moment, if a meteor fell out of the sky, I would have still fallen asleep, I wouldn't have helped save anyone or done anything at all, for that moment.

Have you ever been so angry at someone that for the moment you didn't feel compassion or empathy for them, only anger?

Have you ever felt humiliated or embarrassed so much that you felt victimized, and only felt anger or even hatred toward the other people?

Have you ever been bullied or attacked, and temporarily felt nothing but defense, and didn't care all that much about how you got away or stopped the other person (or animal), even just for a moment?

Have you ever had someone try to take what belongs to you, or impose on your generosity, or deplete your resources, and you felt nothing but defense and a desire to protect your resources from that person?

Have you ever felt triumphant, exuberant pride in something you've accomplished, and for even a short time felt like you could fly, or like you were princess or a prince, or like Superman or Wonder Woman, or like you had accomplished something superior, or were actually (momentarily) a superior human being? 

Have you ever felt like you were actually better than someone else? For any reason at all, like in childhood when you were in 5th grade and felt so much older and more mature than the students in the lower grades? Or when a car drives by that's dirty or in disrepair? Or because the other person was the opposite sex? Or shorter than you, or not as strong as you? Or because you have a college degree and they don't, or because you get paid more than they do? Or because you believe you're more clever, or more moral, or more spiritual, or more wise?

Those moments of single-minded defensiveness, self-preservation, personal triumph, and temporary arrogance can be used as a window to see into the emotional landscape of a person with narcissism. It's not a full picture, it's just a glimpse, but it can shed light. 

Imagine if you felt such ecstasy of getting recognition and praise for an accomplishment that you became fixated on it, and sought out more recognition and more praise in order to feel that ecstasy again. 
Imagine if the only time you felt truly worthy was when you accomplished something and felt that moment of superiority and conquest! 
If you didn't feel worthiness unless you felt conquest, then that might easily be something you would seek out. 
If you didn't feel worthiness and self-acceptance except for when you compared yourself to another and found them lesser than yourself, even slightly lesser, you may seek out "reasons" that other people are inferior to you, just to feel that sense of worth. That sense of worthiness is vital to a human's well-being and survival, so if that's the only way you know how to get it, then it becomes a matter of survival to you. You might even create fictional "reasons" about others in order to get that feeling of worthiness for yourself if you have self-control issues (this can be a result of being in groups and families that use gossip, fear, triangulation and ostracism in order to exert control; you're only treated as if you're worthy if there's someone to contrast yourself against, someone to put down, or someone to gossip about).

We humans all have a large array of emotions, but we don't all process external events the same way, or feel the same number and combination of emotions in reaction to events and people in our lives. If a person only feels impinged upon when someone else is in need, and does not have the capacity to process empathy or compassion, or see the other person as more than a short list of assumptions, he or she will probably only react with defensiveness or contempt toward the person in need. The experience for this person of someone in need does not encompass the whole situation, they can not see the rest of the situation, so they can't feel anything else but defense or judgment. This person in need is being experienced by the narcissist as one would experience a swimmer who has clamped on to them to keep from drowning, but is pulling them under. Even if the narcissist was a strong swimmer and there was really no danger of the other person pulling them under, that's just how they process it.

The narcissist is trying to keep his or her head above water and has no concept of empathy, respect, or helping others, because he or she is engulfed in his or her own survival.

Similarly, the narcissist experiences someone else receiving recognition, attention, or praise as a threat to his or her essential feeling of worthiness and acceptance. Imagine if the only way you would be accepted as a real member of a family or group is to be the "Best", "Brightest", "Strongest", "Best Looking", "Most Talented", "Kindest", "Sweetest", "Most Capable", "Most Reliable", "Most Virtuous", or "Smartest". If you didn't hold one of those titles, they would throw you out on the street, turn on you, ridicule you, or shun you. Without one of those titles, you fear you would get stamped as a "Loser", a "Bad Seed", a "Second Class Citizen", or "Stupid", "Crazy", or "Incapable". You fear this because those labels get stamped on other people by those in your family or group. 

This is one of the ways Narcissism is cultivated in a person; they are treated by those around them as "losers", or as inferior and unworthy, unless they prove themselves to be "better" than someone else, or "the best". It's as if the family or group is living in a movie, and the only cast members who get treated with normal respect and care are those with a Gold Star on their dressing room door, and starring role credits. So, young people especially make it a priority to somehow, some way, get a Gold Star for their own doors, and somehow get their name in the opening credits, just to get treated like they're a real person. From being in this environment, they don't know that they shouldn't have to be a Celebrity in order to get treated with care, real respect, and support. (And they also should not FEAR BECOMING a Celebrity due to talent and skill, just because someone will try to tear them down in envy, or engulf them in order to ride their coat tails or get their credit. But that's a different reaction to the same environment.)

Exploring how a narcissistic person feels is not to be confused with acceptance of abusive behavior, nor does it have anything to do with judging them. It is simply about understanding them, and understanding ourselves, and understanding human beings a little better, so that we can navigate and improve our world and ourselves with more clarity.

Peace and Light.