Are you a secret narcissist?

narcissism Nov 10, 2019

"It can be a kick in the guts to come to terms with the truth that as part of being on the receiving end of narcissism, we have unconsciously developed our own narcissistic tendencies".

Exploring Narcissism (part 3)

As one moves forward to heal from the effects and consequences of being on the receiving end of a narcissist's behaviour, and all the emotional healing which goes with that, at some point in our journey we may be forced to face an uncomfortable and as yet unrecognized truth: 

Despite the fact you always said "I will never be like (my mother, father, sister, brother...)" and "I will never treat people that way", as your self-awareness grows and you have healed much of your pain, and learned how to stand in your own power, you begin to face the uncomfortable truth that you may have your own hidden narcissistic tendencies... in fact, the very same tendencies in someone else you spent a lifetime healing from!

It's not until one has developed a significant degree of self-compassion and non-judgement, along with a healthy dose of self-love and self-appreciation, that one is able to face this uncomfortable truth, because it's not pleasant owning up to the fact you are actually not as 'nice' a person as you thought you were!

Secret or Covert Narcissism

A secret narcissist will mainly harbour their narcissistic tendencies inside, either because they are unaware of them, and / or because they truly do not wish to be unkind to others. They are often and usually a well-meaning and kind person, and may only occasionally exhibit the traits to others (for example, losing one's temper or being unexpectedly abrupt). And yet, the feelings, thoughts and tendencies are continually going on inside.

20 Signs of secret narcissism

So how can you tell if you have your own hidden narcissistic tendencies?

Well, look at this list and see if any resonate, remembering there will be a need for absolute honesty to recognize them, and self-compassion to accept them:

  • Getting angry at people when you don't get what you want (do you ever find yourself 'dumping' at people down the phone or across the counter?)
  • Having fixed expectations of how things should be (it's your way or the highway, and your way is right)
  • Having a sense of 'entitlement' over what you should receive
  • Wanting to be recognized by others for your achievements (unconscious need for approval)
  • Thinking you are special and deserve special treatment (eg checking into a hotel, and you want the best room or complimentary upgrade)
  • Wanting things 'your' way and getting angry when it's not so (aka 2 year old tantrum)
  • Wanting things 'now' and getting angry when it's not so
  • Feelings of impatience and intolerance with others (feeling superior and others are stupid)
  • The potential to be manipulative or take advantage of others (although mostly you don't, but the inner urge is there)
  • Thinking you know it all or know better than others (and how others are often stupid)
  • Thinking people should listen to you because what you have to say is important
  • Feeling superior (and sometimes inferior)
  • Comparing yourself with others in a negative light and then feeling envious of them
  • Being demanding and over-demanding... of others and yourself (aka being mean to yourself - the flip side of narcissism when we hold it inside)
  • Wanting to be right
  • A tendency or possibility of being mean and unkind to others, even though you stop yourself doing so
  • Wanting to be sarcastic or derogatory, although you generally stop yourself doing so
  • Having alterior motives for doing things, ie an inability to give freely without wanting something in return
  • Feeling bitter, envious or jealous about other's accomplishments or good fortune
  • Feeling sour (liver imbalance) or bitter (heart imbalance) towards others
  • Feeling the right to 'break the rules' (eg, I'll take that parking space even if it says it's reserved)

Do you recognize any of these? I certainly did when it dawned on me that some of my unwanted 'personality traits' were actually narcissism in disguise. 

It can be a kick in the guts to come to terms with the truth that as part of being on the receiving end of narcissism, we have unconsciously developed our own narcissistic tendencies. But the first step in changing and healing from anything is to 'recognize what is', face with with honesty and compassion, and then go about doing the work to heal and change. 

Inner Pain - Inner Toxicity

We can sum all these hidden narcissistic tendencies up in one word: toxicity. We are toxic inside... mentally, emotionally and often even physically. They all go hand in hand. 

Why is this so?

Because when we've been on the receiving end of a narcissist (usually as a child) we build up a backlog of emotions which get unconsciously stored inside. These emotions build up over time, layer upon layer, creating an emotional toxicity inside us.

It's so important to understand that the reason we still have these hidden narcissistic tendencies is because we have not yet fully healed our own pain. This is why we must have compassion for ourselves.

This emotional toxicity affects how our organs, tissues and cells function, preventing proper Qi flow and optimal cellular function, for example:

  • Heart, disappointment and betrayal get stored in the heart
  • Anger and frustration affect the liver
  • Resentment affects the liver and gallbladder
  • Sadness and grief get stored in the lungs
  • Fear affects the kidneys

This is how the internal organs begin to go out of balance, and how dis-ease turns into disease.

So not only are we unwell mentally and emotionally, we are also harming our body physically. This is why learning to let go of our emotions is not only important, but essential. 


So what is the way out? How do we heal our own narcissistic tendencies?

There are certain steps we need to take:

1. Acknowledge the truth of what is going on inside our mind and emotions, acknowledge the truth of the matter with self-love and self-acceptance. Recognize there is a reason for how we are; it's the result of what happened to us in our formative years, and although we don't like these tendencies, we are committed to changing and uplifting our life for the better:

2. Commit to changing these tendencies, which means increasing our self-awareness thermometer so we notice all the thoughts and feelings going on inside us at any given moment throughout the day. We move from unconsciousness to conscious awareness, and then start to make changes:

3. Notice, monitor, change and curb our behaviours when we go into our 'knee-jerk' response pattern (eg, "I want things my way") and then STOP and do it differently.  We exercise self-discipline over our own mind and emotions.

4. Do the necessary emotional healing and clear the 'gunk' which is still inside which is driving the old thoughts, feelings and behaviours. 

5. Work on changing our patterns of consciousness, the very deeply programmed patterns which drive our behaviour, thoughts, actions and feelings. 

6. Work on cultivating the '5 essential qualities of the heart': trust, openness, love, gratitude and respect. This is essential work for inner transformation. 

7. Let go more and more of the 'false self' so we can allow our 'True Self' to manifest more and more. We do this through facing and working on our short-comings, owning up to them, making changes, which necessitates swallowing our pride and processing the pain we have buried deep inside. There is much work to be done and we do it one day at a time, with as much patience, love and compassion we can muster. 

Slowly slowly we let go our old unhealthy patterns and become the person we truly want to be, turning into a happier, healthier and humbler person who truly loves themselves from the inside out. 

Good luck, it's a journey, and not for the faint-hearted!!

Further Learning and Help

Over the past 13 years I have created a swag of online self-help DIY programs to help people heal themselves. The following programs are relevant for healing from narcissism, either from the effects of being treated unfairly, or our own tendencies:

Introduction to Emotional Mastery - your gateway to understanding the power of emotions

Stop Depression Now - heal the emotions you are de-pressing

Emotional Empowerment - take back your power and learn to love yourself authentically

Emotional Clearing - learn how to dissolve toxic emotions from inside of you

Smile your Way to Inner Peace - learn how to dissolve toxic emotions from your inner organs

Full list of all online programs

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