Narcissists believe they have life figured out, and you don’t.  Of course, such thinking is inaccurate, which means it is a blind spot.  Narcissists lack self-awareness, psychological insight, and honesty about themselves.  They don’t understand what healthy living is, even though they hold themselves up as the standard.

Their psychological blindness keeps them trapped inside of a prison of immaturity, and it is undergirded by ongoing ignorance and arrogance…not a good combination.

To get an idea of how narcissists remain moored to their many dysfunctions, let’s highlight six of their most common blind spots.

Until they come to terms with who they actually are, they will perpetually generate relationship tensions.

  1. They are defined, not just by fear and shame, but by an existential pain.  Yes, narcissists struggle with fear, as evidenced by their pervasive defensives.  And yes, they struggle with shame as evidenced by their hypersensitivity to judgments.  But beneath it all is profound pain.  Narcissists are convinced that life has given them a raw deal.  But being incapable of examining their hurt objectively, they look outwardly to find people to blame for their many discomforts.  
  1. They are stuck in self-induced loneliness.  After becoming acquainted with others, narcissists sabotage full connection.  They are too committed to false pretenses.  They have an uncanny knack for offending others needlessly.  Developing empathetic bonds is a mystery to them.  And they cannot sustain the necessary honesty that ensures trustworthiness.  This leads to struggles with loneliness, as evidenced by their chronic frustration in finding individuals who will endure their inconsistencies.
  1. What they don’t know about others is what they don’t know about themselves.  Narcissists consistently misread the moods of others.  For instance, if others feel agitated or defensive, they become dysregulated.  Why?  It’s because they too have feelings of agitation and defensiveness, and they have never paused to consider the meaning of their reactions.  It is impossible for them to know the meaning of your many thoughts and feelings because they have such a poor understanding of who they are.
  1. Their harshness toward others is a direct byproduct of harshness they have received.  Like anyone else, narcissists don’t like receiving negative treatment.  But instead of contemplating the better alternatives, they merely dole out what was given to them.  Being steeped in a blaming strategy, they don’t see their harsh treatment of you as displacement of what they carry inwardly, yet that is precisely what is happening.
  1. Narcissists have no conception of conflict management beyond the use of imperative communication.  Resolving tensions, requires you to take responsibility for your own contributions to the problem.  You will need to seek understanding of the other.  You will need to approach the relationship with a goal of harmony.  Narcissists do none of these things.  Instead, they tell.  They give mandates and lots of unnecessary directives, and in the process, they completely overlook the value of collaboration.  This virtually guarantees perpetual conflict, but in their minds, it is all due to your stubbornness.
  1. Their construction of a False Self guarantees phoniness.  The narcissist’s public persona is built upon lies, revisionist memories, and falsely flattering attitudes about Self.  Healthy relationships require authenticity, but narcissists are uniquely constituted to be the opposite.  They cannot say: “There’s something about me that is off.  I need to make some corrections.”  Instead, when strains arise, they play the victim card and blame you.

The net result of these blind spots is the chronic perpetuation of life patterns that don’t work.  Narcissists cannot change what they cannot see.  Not seeing their own patterns accurately, they deduce that their problems must be your fault.  And as you remain connected to them, you’ll find that your strains with them worsen over time.  Self-improvement and relationship maturation cannot happen when problematic patterns are persistently denied or overlooked.

Can you understand, then, why it is so futile to connect with narcissists?  

Know what you are dealing with.  Drop the illusion that you will make them see the light.  Adjust your expectations.  Then, in fairness, ask yourself: “Do I have any blind spots?”  As you determine to be open and objective about the sum total of your pluses and minuses, you can expect to remain in an ongoing growth trajectory.  But as narcissists refuse admit to their blind spots, know that you will grow without their accompaniment. 

~Les Carter, Ph.D.

To watch the video on this topic, click here.