11 Signs You're A Narcissist — And You Don't Realize It

Photo: getty
Am I Narcissistic? How To Check Yourself For The Signs Of Narcissism & Stop Being A Narcissist

Conflict in life is normal, but if you're constantly experiencing problems in your relationships, always wondering why it seems so difficult for you to achieve your goals, or always wondering why people never seem to live up to your expectations, there's a strong chance you are the problem. 

The world seems obsessed with pointing out how everyone else is a narcissist, but have you ever asked yourself: am I a narcissist?

Would you be able to recognize the signs of a narcissist, even if they were right under your nose?

RELATED: Am I Narcissistic? How To Know If You're Experiencing Symptoms Of NPD

Before you start tripping, let's look beyond your ego, as this could be a serious problem. Maybe you don't rate as full-blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but if, on some level, you're exhibiting even basic narcissistic behaviors, that's still an issue, and likely, your relationships are being negatively affected by it.

Don't know whether you're narcissistic or not? Take a moment and ask yourself these 11 questions (and answer them honestly):

  1. Do you consider yourself a proud person?
  2. Do you insist on having the best of everything?
  3. If others don't give you attention or acknowledgment you feel you deserve, do you feel slighted?
  4. Do you get easily upset or feel affronted when people disagree with you?
  5. Are you often critical of the ways in which other people come to conclusions about things?
  6. Do you believe most other people are dumb?
  7. When someone offends you, does "going off" on them (or retaliating in some way) make you feel better?
  8. Are you sick and tired of being the only person in the room who truly gets it?
  9. Does your life tend to feel more frustrating than fun?
  10. Does it seem as if you have a pattern where many of your relationships crash and burn?
  11. When you take over a project, do you end up either doing most of the work or working by yourself?

If any of these things are true, you might want to look deeper into why. If you answered "yes" to five or more of these questions, you likely have a rather offensive personality and people probably consider you a narcissist.

On the surface, being a narcissist comes across as having an inflated sense of your own importance, a deep (almost insistent) need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence actually lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

So why should you care? After all, narcissists lack empathy, right?

Well, you should care because the only thing worse than dealing with a narcissist is displaying the traits yourself and not being aware that you're doing it.

Beyond people thinking of you in such a disgraceful way, knowing you're perceived this way is devastating to your own self-worth (even if you don't want to admit it). This behavior (and mindset) screws up your life in so many areas — ranging from personal relationships to being happy (or, likely, not) at work to how well you parent. It can even make a mess of your financial affairs.

But the good news is that you can do something about this. Most narcissists don't mean to act this way at all. At their core, they're good people. Narcissism is merely a way they learned to use to cope with feelings of shame, insecurity, and vulnerability while attempting to avoid an ongoing sense of potential humiliation.

Often, these feelings begin in childhood. Research indicates that one of the root causes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder begins with mom and dad overly praising their child in the wrong way.

The development of these traits stem from an overly indulgent parenting style and also an overly authoritarian parenting style. In other words, you as a child either had no boundaries or were overly-restrained from being a normal kid.

Now that you're an adult, you either expect everyone to kiss your butt or you treat other people how your hyper-controlling parents treated you. Either way, your approach to getting your needs met your way is alienating people.

RELATED: 7 Traits That Make You A Prime Target For A Narcissist

You can fix this. Here's where you need to begin:

1. Be brave enough to ask.

Talk to three people who have known you for more than four years, and ask if your behavior reflects a "yes" to those 11 questions above.

Don't ask, "Do you think I'm a narcissist?!" That's confrontational. Just ask them the 11 questions and if they think they apply to you.

And then, instead of arguing back or justifying why you do those behaviors, have courage enough to just hear their honest replies and let that information sink in. Just humbling yourself to three people and seeking a new perspective on how others perceive you is already a big step in the right direction.

2. Seek out support.

If you realize you really are acting like a narcissist and want to shift out of that behavior, good for you. But wanting to and successfully doing so are two different things.

Seeking support from a psychologist or even a psychiatrist is a smart idea. The key to controlling narcissistic behavior is understanding what created the behavior and what triggers narcissistic defense reactions.

Yes, I know "being you" is challenging. It's hurtful when friends, colleagues or family "label" you a narcissist and then tell everyone else about it. Typically, you're the last one to know there was ever a problem or that you're being perceived in a negative way.

The last thing you (or anyone) wants is to come across like a know-it-all or have your friends, family, and co-workers perceive you as a self-absorbed, egomaniac. Make no mistake about it — they will and do tell everyone within proximity about you.

This is especially true if you're in a supervisory position at your job, play a leadership role in an organization, or are a chairperson in a social organization.

What typically happens when people think you're a narcissist is, they:

  • Set you up to fail
  • Don't support you
  • Talk about you behind your back
  • Avoid contact (and conflict) with you
  • Encourage others to stay clear of you, also

In the end, you feel embittered, embarrassed, and resentful, which does nothing but give you cause to continue acting narcissistic. Of course, you want to protect your reputation and dignity by disguising your hurt behind behaviors the attempt to convey high self-esteem. You're trying to validate yourself, not act like a self-absorbed jerk.

In the event that you're too prideful to ask others their true opinion of you, the truth remains: if you answered "yes" to those questions above, you definitely have an issue on your hands. Whether it's ultimately narcissism or not doesn't really matter. The fact that your life and relationships are being negatively affected does.

Now that this is out in the open, the choice of whether or not to address it is yours.

RELATED: 20 Extremely Brutal Signs You're In Love With A Narcissist

Dr. D. Ivan Young is a TEDx speaker, a certified Master Coach and Master Neuro-Linguistic Programmer, and a credentialed Master MBTI Practitioner with a Ph.D. in Holistic Life Coaching.