The psychological term “narcissist” has been thrown around carelessly over the years. A coworker endlessly brags about their athletic abilities. Narcissist! An ex-boyfriend or girlfriend was vain and selfish right up to the moment they dumped you. Narcissist! Someone in the ward spends half their talk recounting stories of how amazing they are and name-dropping all of the general authorities they are personally acquainted with. What a narcissist!
Yes, “narcissist” has simply been a convenient term for anyone who bragged a lot or seemed arrogant and vain. In the past year however, the American public has had a crash course in how shockingly inflexible and extreme narcissist behavior can be. The pathological narcissist simply cannot put a lid on their behavior, even when the stakes are high. It doesn’t matter how serious the issue is, someone who is extremely narcissistic absolutely must make it all about himself or herself.
It doesn’t take a battery of psychological tests to identify a narcissist; apparently they’re just fine with acknowledge it. A recent study found that most narcissists would just admit it when asked on a questionnaire. So, instead of talking about you like you’re not there, you little narcissist you, I’ll just address you directly, because this post is for you.
1. You are special
If you’re a narcissist, you think you’re pretty special, and actually, you absolutely are. You have worth that you can’t possibly understand. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf beautifully expressed this point in his talk, You Matter to Him:
“And while we may look at the vast expanse of the universe and say, ‘What is man in comparison to the glory of creation?’ God Himself said we are the reason He created the universe! His work and glory—the purpose for this magnificent universe—is to save and exalt mankind. In other words, the vast expanse of eternity, the glories and mysteries of infinite space and time are all built for the benefit of ordinary mortals like you and me. Our Heavenly Father created the universe that we might reach our potential as His sons and daughters.
“This is a paradox of man: compared to God, man is nothing; yet we are everything to God. While against the backdrop of infinite creation we may appear to be nothing, we have a spark of eternal fire burning within our breast. We have the incomprehensible promise of exaltation—worlds without end—within our grasp. And it is God’s great desire to help us reach it.”
So you are as special as you think you are, but the hard thing for you, as a narcissist, to comprehend, is that other people can have great worth too without it somehow diminishing your worth. You feel like you have to be better than others in order to have worth. Remember, dear narcissist, that God thinks differently than we do. In our intensely competitive world, you do have to achieve more and get better results if you want that scholarship or job promotion. In God’s kingdom, there are enough blessings and personal attention for everyone who seeks it.
2. The Lord understands you
The higher your level of narcissism, the more you might feel like no one has the capacity to understand you. To some extent, this is true, as President Henry B. Eyring taught us that “only God knows hearts, and so only He can say, in truth, ‘I know how you feel.’” Take comfort in going to the Lord in prayer. He truly is the only one who completely understands you, even better than you understand yourself.
Elder David A. Bednar also spoke of how deeply Jesus Christ understands you: “There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness you or I ever confront in mortality that the Savior did not experience first. In a moment of weakness we may cry out, ‘No one knows what it is like. No one understands.’ But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He has felt and borne our individual burdens. And because of His infinite and eternal sacrifice, He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy. He can reach out, touch, succor, heal, and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do relying only upon our own power. Indeed, His yoke is easy and His burden is light.”
3. Social status is so important to you that you’re easily provoked
Although you might not admit it or show it, dear narcissist, you are easily provoked by certain things. One study that compared psychopaths to narcissists found that psychopaths grew aggressive when physically provoked, but narcissists responded aggressively to personal insults. Another study reported that narcissists grew aggressive toward someone who had socially rejected them. Narcissist were so bothered by the insult that they were also aggressive toward an innocent person who wasn’t involved in the initial rejection at all.
One of the most important lessons someone high in narcissism like you needs to learn is to cherish positive social experiences, but don’t get bent out of shape every time you feel a little insulted or rejected. Here are some wonderful general conference quotes you can put on your mirror to inspire and instruct you!
“When we offer our broken heart to Jesus Christ, He accepts our offering. He takes us back. No matter what losses, wounds, and rejection we have suffered, His grace and healing are mightier than all.” —Neill F. Marriott, Yielding Our Hearts to God
“Happy is the man who can brush aside the offending remarks of another and go on his way.” —President Gordon B. Hinckley, Slow to Anger
“When we believe or say we have been offended, we usually mean we feel insulted, mistreated, snubbed, or disrespected. And certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean-spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else.
“In the grand division of all of God’s creations, there are things to act and things to be acted upon. As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we have been blessed with the gift of moral agency, the capacity for independent action and choice. Endowed with agency, you and I are agents, and we primarily are to act and not just be acted upon. To believe that someone or something can make us feel offended, angry, hurt, or bitter diminishes our moral agency and transforms us into objects to be acted upon. As agents, however, you and I have the power to act and to choose how we will respond to an offensive or hurtful situation.” —Elder David A. Bednar, And Nothing Shall Offend Them
4. Aging can be hard on you
People high in narcissism have very grandiose dreams of what they want out of life. They think they deserve perfection in some way, whether it be enjoying perfect love with a perfect spouse, or rocketing to the top in their career goals. They also tend to take great care with their appearance, and enjoy being admired for their looks.
No matter how much you attain love and success in life, for you, dear narcissist, it will end up falling short of your dreams, because your dreams were so big. And no matter how you fight it, your carefully preserved good looks will diminish with time.
One crucial thing to keep in mind as someone who is high in narcissism and also LDS is that, as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught, “the best is yet to be” —
“[L]ook ahead and remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives.
“So a … theological way to talk about Lot’s wife is to say that she did not have faith. She doubted the Lord’s ability to give her something better than she already had. Apparently, she thought that nothing that lay ahead could possibly be as good as what she was leaving behind.”
For you, the narcissist, what you leave behind as you age is the status that comes with youth, and disappearing probability of the fame or career heights that you wanted to reach. This is not to say you didn’t or won’t accomplish or learn great things, but probably not to grandiose level you once dreamed. You simply must focus on the Lord’s promises, and the words of Elder Holland — “Faith is for the future. Faith builds on the past but never longs to stay there. Faith trusts that God has great things in store for each of us and that Christ truly is the ‘high priest of good things to come’ (Hebrews 9:11).”
Some blessings won’t always be realized in this life, but consider the words of President Lorenzo Snow—“In the next life we will have our bodies glorified and free from sickness and death. Nothing is so beautiful as a person in a resurrected and glorified condition. There is nothing more lovely than to be in this condition and have our [spouse] and children and friends with us.”