There has been much written about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), which is an all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity, intense need for approval, admiration or adulation, self-importance and sense of entitlement, constant envy of others, arrogance coupled with rage when frustrated, and total lack of empathy.
This article is not about NPD. It is about the common, garden variety of narcissism, which is far more prevalent than NPD. In fact, most people suffer from some degree of narcissism.
The narcissism I am writing about here can be defined as a pattern of thinking that others' behavior is "all about me." The narcissist is self-involved, with a lack of caring and compassion for others when their fears and insecurities are triggered. You are being narcissistic when you take others' behavior personally and believe that you are somehow causing or controlling others to do what they do. You can see from this definition that the ego wounded self in all of us has some degree of narcissism.
For example, Sherrie is the mother of three children, ages five, seven and ten. Like most kids, sometimes they don't listen to her. However, instead of recognizing that sometimes kids just get resistant or preoccupied and don't listen, Sherrie takes it personally. "How can they hurt me like this? They don't care about me. If they cared about me, they would listen to me." Sherrie keeps getting hurt by her children because she is taking their behavior personally, thinking that it is about her rather than about them.
Norman feels hurt and angry when his wife, Natalie, doesn't feel like making love with him. Natalie works full time and is the mother of two young children, so she is often just plain worn out. Norman, instead of caring about Natalie and having compassion for her tiredness, takes it personally that she isn't feeling turned on. "If she loved me and found me attractive, she would feel like making love with me." Norman's ability to empathize goes out the window when he take's Natalie's behavior personally and then feels rejected.
Trudy is on a constant search for approval from her boss. If her boss is slightly critical of anything, instead of caring about the issue at hand, Trudy becomes defensive and angry. In her mind, her boss should care more about her than about the business.
If you find yourself frequently feeling angry, judgmental or annoyed at others, you might want to explore the narcissism of your wounded self. Often anger, judgment and annoyance toward others are coming from the narcissistic wounded self's belief that others are responsible for your feelings. Therefore, if another person does something that upsets you or doesn't meet your expectation, you believe you have the right to be angry at that person. "After all," says the wounded self, "if that person really cared about me, he or she wouldn't behave in a way that upsets me. "