Do you ever seek gratifying experiences?  Of course, you do. You prefer to spend time with your favorite people.  You naturally enjoy favorite meals, entertainment, outdoor activities, moments of ease, and more.  It’s all part of the spice of life that elevates us above the mundane. Then…as those experiences accumulate, you feel emotions related to happiness, contentment, connection, and accomplishment.

Now, let’s contrast a normal pursuit of pleasure with the desires of narcissists.  They too want to feel satisfied, but inwardly they carry twin traits (patterns) that lead toward entirely different results.  Those twin traits are raw self-gratification and unregulated emotions.  Inevitably they reside side by side.  And the net result is the narcissist becoming insufferable.

In the narcissist’s world, it is all about Me.

They just assume the world owes them deferential and preferential treatment. When their raw self-gratification is not properly addressed, they can unleash toddler-like reactions. They are capable of unruly anger, pouting, making demands, griping, complaining, interrupting, being superimposing, and more.

A few simple illustrations might include:

  • You have a preference regarding ways to approach an event, but it does not match perfectly with the narcissist’s preferences.  The net result is a flurry of criticism.
  • As you talk about your desires, the narcissist wants you to bend your opinions into conformity with theirs.  They become unhinged when you do not.
  • A last-minute glitch arises which alters earlier plans. The narcissist becomes and remains agitated, making many comments about being surrounded by idiots.
  • You announce plans to spend time with friends or family, but instead of joining you or offering encouragement, you are reminded how unreasonable you are. Later, you learn the narcissist is holding you in contempt.

Did I mention they can be insufferable?

As narcissists operate with a craving for raw self-gratification accompanied by unregulated emotions, they reveal much about what resides inwardly.  For instance:

  • Unwilling to defer self-enhancement, patience is almost non-existent.
  • Self-restraint is for you, but not for the narcissist. Their entitlement runs deep.
  • They show no regard for tomorrow. Now is the only time that matters.
  • They have low regard for mitigating circumstances or others’ unique preferences.
  • Conscientiousness has not been developed.
  • They are driven by a need for dominance. Egalitarianism is not in the equation.
  • Serving others, or just being cooperative, holds no interest.
  • They see happiness as a right, not a byproduct.
  • They cannot imagine being in a relationship that does not include them being in control.
  • They are takers, and even when they give, a taker’s attitude is involved.
  • Narcissists find inner peace elusive.

It’s no wonder, then, that the narcissistic approach toward gratification is virtually never rewarding.  They can feel satisfied when they receive exactly what they demand, but it is almost impossible for them to think communally.

Making matters worse, when narcissists feel disgruntled in their pursuits, they cannot contain their hubris. (“Do you know who I am?”).  They are genuinely surprised when you do not share their priorities, and instead of seeking compromise or coordination, they judge.  How many times have you been reminded that your lack of cooperation means you have bad intentions and bad character?  

Like struggling toddlers who can’t seem to manage disappointments, narcissists remind you it’s your job to prop up their emotional well-being. “Feed me, feed me.  I have to have my way!”

My response to narcissists who seek gratification is to acknowledge that pleasure has its place.  It’s not a wrong desire. Yet, their strategy of pounding others into submission as they pursue that pleasure will create the wrong results every time.

As you witness the narcissist’s twin traits of raw self-gratification and unregulated emotions, you might be tempted to ask: “Did it ever occur to you that you can find satisfaction by tuning into others, by seeking mutuality, by serving or giving?”  Of course, as valid as such questioning would be, you won’t receive a mature response.

Just remember, at the center of the narcissistic pattern is an “all about me” attitude that is truly insufferable.  Then try to turn your frustrated emotions into a resolve to exhibit the opposite.  The ultimate gratification arises from a heart of love that emphasizes dignity, respect, and civility.

~Les Carter, Ph.D.

To watch the video on this topic, click here.