Narcissism. It’s the latest overused buzzword. Yet, narcissism is a growing problem, and it’s not about to go away. Narcissism is SIN. A narcissist is extremely self-centered, selfishly promoting oneself at all costs, in order to remain on an imaginary pedestal.
There are varying levels of narcissism. As someone becomes more selfish, that person becomes more self-centered, and in turn becomes blind to the needs and feelings of others. The self-centered narcissist is then no longer able to have compassion and empathy for other people. Narcissists expect to be the center of attention all the time, every time, believing that others’ lives should revolve around their own. In fact, narcissists get offended if not treated as the special beings they believe themselves to be.
Narcissists learn to fake the empathy and compassion they lack. They closely watch others, reading their facial expressions and mimicking voice inflections. They react by faking the false emotion which they think best fits the situation. Narcissists manipulate and control people like puppets, in order to keep the spotlight on themselves. They learn how to use self-pity to get others to do their dirty work, and thrive on stirring up drama. They are convincing liars, able to turn on a faucet of tears in order to reach their goal of getting their own way, and gaining more attention.
A narcissist feeds on “narcissistic supply.” This means they use others in order to get their emotional needs met. They don’t even mind some negative attention, which they would rather have than nothing at all. A narcissist will do whatever is necessary to get “narcissistic supply,” including: working overtime, committing adultery, forging false friendships, and tearing families apart. They jealously set out to destroy relationships, in order to prove that everyone “needs” them in a time of crisis. As the sin grows roots of bitterness, narcissists are willing to take extreme risks, including: placing their children in dangerous situations, taking on extra romantic partners, and falling into dangerous addictions. It’s all about generating narcissistic supply, in order to make other people believe that the narcissist is the personality he or she claims to be.
Narcissists come in all shapes and sizes. Some want to be looked at as powerful authority figures, while others want to be perceived as perfect church leaders. Others may want to be super mom, and still others as bold, fearless, and tough. Whichever role a narcissist chooses, it’s always for self-gratification. Narcissists are willing to lie, cheat, gossip, slander, and steal to make sure the desired facade is not broken.
Anyone who becomes a threat to the narcissist, by pulling away the false mask, is at risk of having the narcissist attempt to destroy his or her life. This is why many people choose the cowardly route, and instead side with the narcissist, in assigning the truth sayer a scapegoat role. The scapegoat gets blamed for the problems that actually belong to the narcissist. By projecting, the narcissist is often able to hide dysfunction and convince others that the everything is the scapegoat’s fault. The narcissist’s allies want to save their own hides, because they know that disagreeing with the narcissist will make their lives extremely difficult. A narcissist attempts to turn everyone else against the one person who actually sees the wolf in sheep’s clothing. This abusive, self-centered behavior is insidious, because it is all about pretending to be someone the narcissist is not. It’s about charming others and gaining their trust and dependence; then dropping them like hot coals.
Though a narcissist may not be able to feel true emotions, they feel something akin to deep depression when their main source of attention, or narcissistic supply, is cut off. They don’t actually care about the person missing from their lives; instead they care about themselves and how they are perceived in the public eye. Because people are normally trusting, a narcissist is able to weave his or her way into the lives of sensitive, empathetic people who never knew what was coming. The narcissist needs these people to survive, and fills up on their attention, like a car needs to fill its tank of gas. When the attention runs out, the narcissist is running on empty, and begins a desperate attempt to fill up his or her tank once again. It’s a never ending cycle, exhausting to those around the narcissist, who are required to meet outrageous expectations.
Because people have other things going on in their lives, no one has the energy or stamina to continuously cater to a narcissist. When people begin to back away, toxic fumes erupt, because the narcissist is angry and running on empty. The narcissist will stop at nothing to get you back as a source of self-esteem, and if you don’t cooperate, they are bound and determined to make sure you do. If you cross them, they will scapegoat you, and try to damage your reputation with gossip, lies, and slander. They will dump and discard you when you have nothing to give, and then try to win you back when they run out of supply.
Everything a narcissist does, is done with the intent to cast the narcissist in a positive light. Narcissists are people you know: mothers, fathers, children, bosses, teachers, neighbors, and more. Pay attention. They say and do things to show you how “wonderful” they are. They stop at nothing to keep their reputation intact. They fool many innocent people. This self-centeredness is so extreme that it cannot be fixed, or revealed, except by the grace of God.
As the world we know crumbles under more and more selfish sin, narcissism will become even more and more commonplace. However, with God, the silver lining is always in sight. There is healing in Jesus for victims of narcissism. Jesus can take away the trauma and pain caused by narcissistic abuse. Jesus can break every chain of depression, rejection, fear, guilt, shame, anger, anxiety, isolation, and abandonment that innocent people battle as they try to cope and pick up the pieces of their lost lives. How wonderful it is to know that you can be set free from believing the lies that a self-centered narcissist led you to believe about yourself.
Biblical boundaries are necessary when dealing with a narcissist, and in some cases may need to be set indefinitely. There’s another silver lining: As hard is it may be for some to comprehend, God loves narcissists too. Though the world will tell us there’s no hope for a narcissist, there is always hope for a narcissist’s transformation through repentance and forgiveness in Jesus. Nothing is impossible with God. Just as a victim of narcissism can be healed through the power and authority of Jesus Christ, and therefore no longer a victim, narcissists can seek God’s forgiveness through Jesus, and turn from the error of their ways. For God loves everyone, and Jesus died for the sins of us all.
Live your life having joy in Jesus. God has laid it upon my heart to help others learn how God can spiritually heal people hurting from narcissistic abuse. Jesus is our hope which leads to freedom. If you believe you are in the path of a narcissist, I encourage you to learn about this self-centered sin. Yet, remember to pray and pursue Christ as you do, understanding that God’s ways are not man’s ways. God will protect you, heal you, and be your strength and courage, because God is the one who is really in charge! God will give you wisdom and discernment and lead you to those who believe you and can help you.
It’s not God’s will for lives to be torn to shreds because of narcissism. Pursue God, and put your trust in Him. He has a much bigger plan, and He will use you to bring it to fruition if you let Him! God will pull you through it, giving you joy through Jesus…and God will get the glory!
God is the great redeemer. He restores relationships, takes the bad, and turns it into good. God’s timing is always best, so hold His hand on your journey, knowing He will never abandon you or disappoint you! God is love, and God loves you!
“The Silver Lining” will be addressing narcissistic topics more in depth. To find other related blog posts, go to The Silver Lining Blog, click the menu button, and click on the keyword “narcissism.” You can also join The Silver Lining on Facebook.
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God– having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”
2 Tim. 3:1-5 New International Version
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
2 Peter 3:9