Think of the last time you were attempting to explain yourself to a narcissist, and you felt like you were just spinning your wheels. Narcissists are defined by their self-absorption, entitlement, low capacity for empathy, controlling agenda, and inability to receive input. That being the case, it is very common for them to send you the message that your separate thoughts, perceptions, and feelings are unwanted. And if you feed them information they don’t want, then in their minds, you become nothing.

This leaves you with the feeling of being unseen. You naturally wonder, “Am I just a Nobody who has nothing to offer?” Predictably, you may plead your case strongly. You can appeal to logic. Or you can talk about the need for fair play. You might justify your decency.

And yet, through word or deed, the narcissist will convey:

“You are invisible to me.”
“As far as I’m concerned, you have no validity.”
“Your emotional appeals do not move me.”
“I don’t care about your unique, mitigating circumstances.”
“I only recognize people who defer to my way of being.”

So, when I say narcissists have a low capacity for empathy, I mean low. As differences arise, instead of using it as an opportunity to know you better, narcissists cannot see you as one who has something to offer. You are merely a nuisance.

Keep in mind, narcissists are predisposed to see only what they want to see. They approach you with a self-serving agenda. As long as you fit their grooves, you can be in their club. But if you wish to talk about your needs or feelings, they prove incapable of entering into that exchange. Instead, they let you know that you are merely someone to be used, period. You are just an empty shell who should feel privileged to be filled by them.

It is essential to understand that narcissists are driven by longstanding fears.

Deeply insecure, they need you (they are desperate) to admire and affirm them. Over time, they make it clear that you have been assigned the task of showing obedience and deference. And that insecurity acts as a wall preventing them from seeing anything beyond their own neediness.

To make matters worse, instead of being honest about those tensions, they seek power and superiority as compensation, and that need for power is what cancels any chance for empathy. Being fixated in childish fear, they lack analytical thinking, since that requires an open, curious mind.

Narcissists cannot see you because they cannot see themselves accurately. They have concocted an alternate reality of their own making. There is little you can say or do to make them see the light.

Taking care of you

Let’s affirm, you are not abnormal when you wish to be noticed, validated, and included by the person in front of you. But when that person is far down the spectrum of narcissism, your normalcy will be deemed abnormal and your desire to be known will be ridiculed.

Subconsciously in the mind of a narcissist is the dream that they would be deemed as the Enlightened One who does no wrong, who is regaled by all as the Source Of Correctness. That dream does not include provisions for you, but it is foolishly self-centered only. It is little more than a fairy tale written by a scared little boy or girl, who wishes to be granted the fleeting designation of worth and regard.

As you are repeatedly reminded by the narcissist that there is no need to see you as valid, in a backward way there is a compliment to you. The narcissist conveys: “You don’t fit inside my Alternate Reality.” To that you can reply, “Good to know.” Then adjust your future plans accordingly.

~Les Carter, Ph.D.

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